Invion announces new partnerships

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Melbourne-based cancer therapy developer Invion (ASX:IVX) says it has partnered with two companies to formulate and test a gel version of its improved photosensitiser product, IVX-P02, as a photodynamic therapy (PDT) gel targeted to treat skin cancers.

Invion said it expects its IVX-P02 gel will be more powerful than currently available topical therapies used to treat skin cancer and could offer skin cancer patients a new treatment option.

Invion said it aims to have the IVX-P02 gel ready in early 2019 for testing in human clinical studies.

It confirmed it has engaged Melbourne-based Formulytica, a specialist group in the development of topical and injectable formulations for pharmaceutical products, to initially develop a topical formulation of IVX-P02 gel.

Development of an injectable IVX-P02 photosensitiser is also planned for testing in solid cancers such as ovarian, prostate and lung cancer, said the company.

It will undertake pre-clinical studies of the IVX-P02 gel through its partner vivoPharm, a Melbourne-based research and laboratory services firm that provides preclinical oncology and immuno-oncology services.

"The results from the pre-clinical trials will form a significant part of the data package that Invion will submit to regulators to achieve product approval," said the company in a statement.

"In clinical studies, the IVX-P02 gel will be applied to a patient’s skin. Medical light source equipment will then deliver light to the target area and activate the patented photosensitising agent. On the basis of pre-clinical studies conducted to date, it is expected that the reaction of visible light and oxygen with the IVX-P02 gel will kill the cancer cells on the patient, leaving surrounding normal cells unharmed."

Invion, which will supply the specialised medical light source equipment, said it has commenced plans to have the equipment approved by the TGA.

“These collaborations enable the Photosoft technology to become a clinical reality and provide new treatments for patients. We have assembled a team of highly regarded experts to advance the formulation development, and move quickly into pre-clinical and subsequently human clinical trials in 2019,” said Invion chief executive Dr Greg Collier.

“There are other topical products on the market but IVX-P02 provides a new option. Invion’s IVX-P02 gel has the potential to provide even greater efficacy than current treatments, based on the results recently seen in in-vitro testing of IVX-P02 in ovarian cancer.”

The collaborations with Formulytica and vivoPharm follow the recent release of data by Invion and its research partner, Australia’s Hudson Institute of Medical Research, showing that IVX-P02 has a 15-fold greater in vitro cytotoxicity (toxic to cells) against ovarian cancer cells, compared to Photosoft Oral.

Cancer expert Dr Andrew Stephens, the group head of the Ovarian Cancer Biomarkers Research Group at the Hudson Institute, says the Photosoft technology has many potential applications, particularly in cancer types that are already resistant to current chemotherapies.