Collaboration between Lilly and CRUK progresses to clinical trials

pharmafile | August 23, 2017 | News story | Research and Development Cancer Research UK, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

Cancer Research UK has announced that its collaboration with Eli Lilly for the treatment of advanced solid tumours will progress to the clinic, with trials taking place across four centres in the UK. The studies aim to ascertain the safety and tolerability of the drug involved before moving onto the second phase where efficacy will be judged.

The compound is called LY3143921 hydrate and will be tested in metastatic bowel cancer, squamous non-small cell lung cancer and high grade serous ovarian cancer. These have been chosen for the high levels of p53 mutation, key to the action of the drug.

The promise of the drug lies in its ability to selectively inhibit Cdc7, a protein known to aid in the reproduction of cells. Cancer cells have been found to be particularly dependent upon this protein and inhibiting this protein could then interrupt the potential for them to grow.

In particular, cancer cells that have higher levels of p53 mutation have been found to be especially sensitive to the inhibition of Cdc7.

The drug has so far only been tested in mice models but has shown promising results. In the first human tests, participants will be administered the drug orally once a day for 21 days and this will be repeated 12 times.

Professor Richard Wilson(, Cancer Research UK-funded clinical researcher and chief investigator at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre, said: “We hope that this new cancer drug might – in the future – provide patients who have tried all available treatment options another opportunity to stop their cancer cells from multiplying and control their disease. It’s very early days, but this trial will help us to understand whether this drug could help cancer patients and whether it has the potential to stop the growth of many different cancer types, particularly those with loss of p53 function.”

The trials will take place across Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. Beyond the type of cancers mentioned, it will also be tested in squamous carcinoma of the oesophagus, squamous carcinoma of the head and neck (Human Papilloma Virus negative), urothelial cancer, triple negative breast cancer and pancreatic cancer – all of which have higher levels of p53 loss or mutation.

Ben Hargreaves

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