AZ partners with Combinations Alliance to test drug in cancer

pharmafile | November 24, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development AstraZeneca, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

A clinical trial is to be launched to test AstraZeneca’s experimental drug, AZD1775, for the treatment of head and neck cancer in the UK.

The test is being facilitated through the Combinations Alliance, an initiative that sees Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and the Experimental Cancer Medicines Centres work together to bring treatments through early stages of the clinic.

The compound, AZD1775, has already shown significant promise in pre-clinical studies, where it was able to boost the efficacy of cisplatin chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This is the first time that the compound will be tested in this particular indication, though in June CRUK announced the beginning of a trial into using the drug as a treatment for bowel cancer.

The compound inhibits a protein called WEE1, which regulates the cell cycle. The drug was discovered by Professor Tim Humphrey, through his work at the MR Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, who found that the compound was able to kill cancer cells with a mutated SETD2 gene, expressed in some bowel cancers and up to 50% of kidney cancers.

In the head and neck cancer trial, the compound will be used in combination with chemotherapy before surgery or with chemotherapy and radiotherapy after surgery, to determine which is most effective and/or reduces the risk of the cancer returning.

Professor Hisham Mehanna, chief investigator of the trial based at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Studies at the University of Birmingham, said: “Many patients diagnosed with aggressive types of head and neck cancer are at a high risk of relapse after surgery, so we urgently need to find new ways to treat the disease and reduce the risk of it returning. We hope that combining this drug with chemotherapy will mean that treatment is more effective helping more people survive, and that those cured will have a better quality of life after treatment.”

In total, the trial will take on 21 patients, who will be separated into two groups, with a primary aim being to determine whether the combination of AZD1775 and chemotherapy has a sufficiently strong safety profile.

Ben Hargreaves

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