Biopharmaceutical company Bionomics (ASX: BNO) has begun the first experimental trial of its proposed cancer drug, BNC105, which will roll out at 15 sites across Australia.
The trial, which has commenced in patients with advanced metastatic colorectal cancer, is taking place in collaboration with American pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb’s nivolumab.
Nivolumab is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that is designed to uniquely harness the body’s own immune system to help restore anti-tumour immune response.
In Australia, nivolumab is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for treatment of eleven indications across seven distinct cancer types.
The trial will investigate whether BNC105, a vascular disrupting agent, combined with immune oncology drug, nivolumab, can be used to treat advanced colorectal cancer patients who have exhausted other treatment options.
According to Bionomics, the trial marks the first clinical assessment of BNC105 in combination with an immunotherapy agent.
About 45 patients will receive BNC105 and PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab, while a second group will receive nivolumab in combination with a Signal Transduction Activator of Transcription inhibitor.
Combining BNC105 with immunotherapy
BNC105 works by exerting direct anti-cancer activity through several different mechanisms including starving the tumour through activation of acute tumour hypoxia and suppressing the growth of the tumour by inhibiting cancer cell proliferation.
Immunotherapy, meanwhile, is seen as a promising treatment for several cancers. It uses the patient’s own immune system to target and attack the cancer tumour.
It works by stimulating lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, which have infiltrated the tumour.
The new trial will investigate whether BNC105, as a vascular disrupting agent, will encourage lymphocytes to enter the tumour, and provide a new treatment option for patients with colorectal cancer.
Bionomics set to promote assets
The trial news comes ahead of the company’s planned attendance at two upcoming events in San Francisco this month.
The first event is the second Neuroscience Innovation Forum on January 6. This will be closely followed by The Biotech Showcase 2019 which is expected to attract more than 3,600 attendees.
Bionomics said the forums would offer numerous partnering meeting opportunities.
“A full schedule of business meetings has been arranged at both events based on Bionomics’ pipeline with the objective of advancing partnering of both CNS and Oncology assets,” it said.
The company’s attendance at the international events comes just a few months after it reported disappointing results from its phase two Post Traumatic Stress Disorder trial.
While BNC210 showed good tolerability and safety, the company conceded the trial failed to meet the primary endpoint of a decrease in PTSD symptoms.
The October news coincided with a significant slump in the company’s share price as investors reacted to the trial results.
Bionomics was trading 6% higher in early afternoon trade to $0.105.