Invion and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to trial photodynamic therapy on penile and anal cancers

Invion IVX ASX Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre penile anal cancer
Anal and penile cancer sufferers are often diagnosed late due to a reluctance in seeking medical help.

Melbourne-based Invion (ASX: IVX) will collaborate with world renowned research organisation Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac) regarding pre-clinical research into the impact of Invion’s photodynamic therapy on penile and anal cancers.

The agreement paves the way for Peter Mac to carry out pre-clinical and in-vitro studies using Invion’s IVX-PDT therapy on high-risk ano-genital cancers, with research to begin next year.

Peter Mac joint-head Gastrointestinal Cancer Program and leading cancer research scientist Professor Robert Ramsay will oversee the study and will be assisted by Associate Prof Nathan Lawrentschuk, who is a urological surgeon and oncologist at Peter Mac.

This research follows from encouraging results in other studies using IVX-PDT in ovarian cancer.

Prof Ramsay said new treatments for ano-genital cancers are “badly needed” and he was keen to investigate the impact of IVX-PDT on these diseases.

“Peter Mac has the world’s largest bank of annotated squamous cell cancer lines from patients with anal and penile cancers.”

“By building a portfolio of pre-clinical data, we anticipate that this work, and that of others, will facilitate clinical trials to address the clinical treatment gap for ano-genital cancers,” he added.

Penile and anal cancers

Because patients are often reluctant to seek medical advice until the condition worsens, penile and anal cancers are frequently diagnosed late.

As a result, sufferers do not receive the benefits of early intervention and have to endure painful and high-risk treatments.

Prof Lawrentschuk said current treatment for these cancers is surgery, followed by chemotherapy in advanced cases.

He pointed out this form of treatment has not changed in the last two-to-three decades.

“Quality of life can be drastically affected with significant psycho-sexual impact and so a less radical treatment option would make a big difference to the lives of these people,” he added.

IVX-PDT photodynamic therapy

Invion’s photodynamic therapy uses non-toxic photosensitisers and visible light in conjunction with oxygen.

The combination produces a cytotoxic-reactive oxygen that kills malignant cells, shuts down tumours and stimulates the immune system.

It works by causing acute inflammation, expression of heat-shock protein and invasion of a tumour by leukocytes.

Invion claims its technology is an alternative to surgery and by stimulating the immune system the technology is a direct contrast to current treatments of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Research with Peter Mac

The research at Peter Mac aims to identify the molecular mechanisms leading to cancer cell deaths using IVX-PDT and determine how effective the drug is in tumour regression in pre-clinical models.

Research will also evaluate the impact of IVX-PDT on immune function and determine an effective dose treatment for clinical trials.

“We are delighted to be working with the high-calibre scientists and clinician researchers at Peter Mac, which is a world-class cancer institute offering a range of human tissue banks, sophisticated in-vitro and in vivo models of cancer and cutting-edge facilities,” Invion incoming chief executive officer Craig Newton said.

“For ano-genital cancer, IVX-PDT may offer a potential treatment option based on access to the tumour by the activating light and a different mode of tumour cell killing.”

“That would be a great benefit not only to patients, but also their families and carers,” Mr Newton added.