Starpharma progresses new DEP candidate

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Starpharma (ASX:SPL) says its DEP irinotecan development candidate showed significant efficacy and safety benefits over standard irinotecan in combination with 5-FU in a mouse xenograft model of human pancreatic cancer.

The company said the human pancreatic tumour model used in the study virtually did not respond to the traditional irinotecan regimen (irinotecan + 5-FU), whereas complete tumour regression and 100 per cent survival was achieved using its DEP irinotecan.

Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of death among oncologic diseases, with a one-year relative survival rate of 20 per cent, and a five-year survival rate of only 7 per cent.

Irinotecan was originally commercialised under the brand name Camptosar and achieved peak annual sales of US$1.1 billion.

Starpharma said irinotecan is an ideal candidate for its DEP technology because it has a US FDA 'Black Box' warning for both severe diarrhoea and myelosuppression (including neutropenia).

According to Dr Jackie Fairley, Starpharma CEO, “These results for DEP irinotecan of complete tumour regression and 100% survival are really impressive given the model used was virtually un-responsive to conventional irinotecan. Pancreatic cancer is known to have one of the lowest survival rates and remains an area of significant unmet medical need with substantial opportunity for better patient outcomes.

"These results provide additional validation of the DEP platform’s ability to significantly improve efficacy alone and in combination compared to relevant originator products.”

Starpharma said its DEP irinotecan is expected to enter the clinic this financial year. It will be its third internal DEP candidate to enter clinical development.

Starpharma also has a number of partnerships, including a multiproduct licence with AstraZeneca for the application of the DEP technology to selected oncology drug candidates.