Race Oncology updates on results of Bisantrene study

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Race Oncology (ASX: RAC) has shared the results of the preclinical research program it is undertaking as part of a collaboration with The University of Newcastle.

Associate Professor Nikki Verrills of the Hunter Medical Research Institute is leading the project that has the aim of identifying combinations of current breast cancer drugs that when paired with Race's Bisantrene show matching efficacy but reduced serious side effects.

Bisantrene was the subject of a large phase three single-agent clinical trial in the US in advanced breast cancer patients in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This trial showed it had the same efficacy as the standard of care treatment, doxorubicin, but caused significantly less damage to a patient’s heart - 23 per cent of the patients who received doxorubicin had serious heart failure compared to only 4 per cent who received Bisantrene.

The company said the University of Newcastle’s results showed Bisantrene is an effective chemotherapeutic agent across a wide range of different genetically defined breast cancer subtypes.

"Bisantrene was able to kill some cancer subtypes that were resistant to the currently used anthracyclines doxorubicin and epirubicin," said the company in a statement.

"Importantly, Bisantrene showed near identical additive benefit when used in combination with cyclophosphamide as that seen with doxorubicin and epirubicin."

Associate Professor Verrills said, “Our data shows that the combination of Bisantrene and cyclophosphamide is more effective than either drug alone, in killing a wide range of different human breast cancer subtypes. The findings are very encouraging as they show the clinical potential for combining Bisantrene with standard of care for breast cancer patients.

"While the early clinical data tells us that Bisantrene is effective in breast cancer patients as a single agent, decades of experience tells us that combination therapy is far more effective in eliminating cancers and blocking the development of treatment resistance. Our data provides the necessary preclinical evidence to now test this combination in clinical trials.”

Race’s CSO Dr Daniel Tillett said, “These high quality results from Nikki’s team fully support our clinical plans for the use of Bisantrene as a safer alternative to the commonly used anthracyclines which can be very dangerous to the hearts of patients. These result show that Bisantrene is compatible with existing treatment regimes and can be combined with standard chemotherapy drugs. I am very excited that we are now in a position to move Bisantrene into its next clinical trial and offer a potentially less harmful, but equally effective, treatment alternative for breast cancer patients.”

Race’s CEO Mr Phillip Lynch added, “This new research not only underscores our confidence in moving Bisantrene into a Phase II breast cancer trial, but continues to build on the body of evidence we have supporting Bisantrene’s potential for broader use and then commercial opportunity. Breast cancer affects about 2.1m women annually and the drug market is valued at US$20 billion globally. We hope to be able to bring a valuable new treatment option to patients with Bisantrene.”