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Pharma Company Begins Cancer Trials

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted October 22, 2012

Last Friday, Active Biotech (STO: ACTI) declared that its partner Ipsen (EPA: IPN) will be initiating a trial involving tasquinimod.

The phase II, proof-of-concept ‘umbrella study’ will evaluate the compound’s safety and efficiency in dealing with four types of advanced or metastatic tumors, including hepato-cellular, ovarian, renal cell, and gastric carcinomas. It will examine its uses in patients for whom standard approaches have already provided some improvement.

Tasquinimod is reputed to have a fairly unique mode of action. It was originally used mainly for prostate cancer, but it may help target multiple malignant diseases beyond that.

It has immunomodulatory and anti-angiogeneic attributes, which could help deal with varying types of carcinomas.

From the Herald Online:

Claude Bertrand, Executive Vice-President R&D and Chief Scientific Officer of Ipsen said: “With its unique mode of action we believe that tasquinimod should be assessed beyond prostate cancer. We hope that this innovative, proof-of-concept study in oncology will generate data on tasquinimod’s biological and clinical activity and safety profile supporting further clinical development in high unmet medical need diseases.”

During this trial, tasquinimod activity will be measured based on the proportion of patients demonstrating progression free survival at established checkpoints in time, Herald Online reports.

The Ipsen-Active arrangement was signed in 2011; it grants Ipsen exclusive rights to commercialize the compound worldwide barring North and South America and Japan, since Active holds all commercial rights in those places.

Thus far, studies involving this compound have tended to focus just on prostate cancer, meaning this study, which explores the viability of tasquinimod treatment in other kinds of cancers, could break new ground.

Ipsen, a specialized pharmaceutical company, had sales of over 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) in 2011. Its development strategy is built around neurology, endocrinology, uro-oncology, and hemophilia, and its corresponding trademarked drugs. Ipsen is heavily involved in R&D, often collaborating with other companies. The company retains around 4,500 employees worldwide.

Active Biotech, a biotech firm, focuses on autoimmune or inflammatory diseases and cancer. Currently, the company has ongoing projects involving laquinimod (for multiple sclerosis), tasquinimod (for prostate cancer), and 57-57 (for systemic sclerosis).