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Mundipharma agrees $250m ‘smart chemotherapy’ deal

Published on 15/08/17 at 09:47am

A small biotech that has been working on developing one treatment for the last decade has finally seen the fruits of their labour, with Mundipharma swooping to take CAP7.I into Phase 3 trials.

The biotech is CellAct that originated in the German university of Charité, after researchers developed the novel prodrug CAP7.I and began a series of financing to develop the drug further.

A prodrug is a medication or compound that only becomes active after the body metabolises the drug into a pharmacologically active agent. In the case of CAP7.I, the compound releases eptoposide, an existing chemotherapy drug, when it interacts with high-levels of enzymes that are found in tumour tissue.

The drug has been tested in the treatment of drug-resistant biliary tract cancer and, in Phase 2 results, was found to be particularly effective. It displayed an overall response rate of 56% and an estimated one-year survival rate of 40%.

This is of particular interest to Mundipharma, a company that already possesses a range of chemotherapies, because the drug holds the potential to not only be more effective (the estimated one-year survival rate is double that of chemotherapy’s in the area) but also to be more precise. As the drug only releases the chemotherapy when interacting with tumour cells, damage to healthy cells is limited and provides a further potential benefit to patients beyond chemotherapy.

Paul Medeiros, Senior Vice President Corporate and Business Development at Mundipharma, said: “Discovering and developing novel medicines to treat underserved oncological diseases is a key strategic priority. Our alliance with CellAct adds an important new potential therapy to our oncology portfolio and builds on our expertise in smart chemotherapies.”

As mentioned by Medeiros, the drug treats such a small pool of patients that the cancer has been designated an orphan disease. There are close to 140,000 deaths from this type of cancer every year, but this number is increasing year on year.

For CellAct, the agreement with Mundipharma sees them receives an up-front figure in the ‘double digits’ and the total value of the deal could be worth up $250 million, with double-digit royalties.

Ben Hargreaves

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