Race Oncology (ASX: RAC) has unveiled what it describes as “impressive” results in preclinical breast cancer research using its bisantrene drug.
The company undertook a collaborative preclinical research program with The University of Newcastle in New South Wales, with Hunter Medical Research Institute associate professor Nikki Verrills leading the project.
During the study, bisantrene was combined with existing breast cancer drugs, with the aim of showing equivalent efficacy but with “significantly reduced” side effects.
Bisantrene has been researched before and was the subject of a large phase III single agent clinical trial of breast cancer patients in the US between the late 1980s and early 1990s.
According to Race, this trial found bisantrene had the same efficacy of doxorubicin, which was the standard of care treatment. However, it is also caused “significantly less” damage to a patient’s heart.
In this latest collaboration with the University of Newcastle, bisantrene was found to be an “effective chemotherapeutic agent” across a wide range of genetically defined breast cancer subtypes.
Additionally, bisantrene was able to kill some cancer subtypes that were resistant to currently used anthracyclines – doxorubicin and epirubicin.
Research also demonstrated when bisantrene was combined with cyclophosphamide, it had a “near identical benefit” to combining cyclophosphamide with doxorubicin and epirubicin, which is the current care standard.
Associate professor Verrills noted the trial found a combination of bisantrene and cyclophosphamide was more effective than either drug alone in killing a range of 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.”
Associate professor Verrills added the latest data provides the necessary preclinical evident to test the combination in clinical trials.
Race pointed out these latest results support its plans to advance bisantrene as a safer alternative to doxorubicin and epirubicin in breast cancer treatment.
The research also indicates an association between fat mass and obesity-associated protein express level and cancer sensitivity to bisantrene.
Race plans to evaluate the “clinical significance” of these finding as well as expand the combinations for bisantrene.
An update on Race’s clinical trials will be released in the “near future”.
Race chief executive officer Phillip Lynch said the research underscores the company’s confidence in progressing bisantrene into a phase II breast cancer trial.
He added it builds on the company’s evidence for supporting bisantrene’s broader use and subsequently, wider commercial opportunity.
Breast cancer affects more than 2 million women each year with the global drug market valued at US$20 billion.