Pilot Study Promising For Phylogica
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Peptides are emerging as attractive drug delivery tools and Phylogica is aiming to be the partner of choice for the international pharmaceutical industry in peptide drug discovery.
Perth-based drug discovery and research company Phylogica (PYC) has continued its strong financial year 2014-15, with the company announcing last month that a pilot study for its cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) showed the product was able to kill drug-resistant breast cancer cells in vivo, when linked with the cancer drug Omomyc, which is being developed in Spain.
The study also indicated that Phylogica’s proprietary CPP fusion process significantly improved the efficacy of existing anti-cancer drugs including the antibody Cetuximab and the chemotherapy agent Docetaxel.
For example, a combination of Cetuximab and a Phylomer CPP-Omomyc fusion was more than three times more effective at killing drug-resistant breast cancer cells than either of these agents alone.
The company also said it found a “substantial reduction” in the size of tumours injected with CPP fusion in an in vivo breast cancer model, when compared with controls. Phylogica stated that this pilot study needs to be repeated using larger groups to "confirm its significance.’’
Peptides are emerging as attractive drug delivery tools. The pilot study came on the back of Phylogica establishing in 2014 that its CPPs are up to 160 times more efficient than the previous “gold standard” cell-penetrating peptides, including the most clinically validated TAT (transactivator of transcription) peptide, enabling the Australian company to claim that it has the “best-in-class” cell-penetrating peptides for delivering drugs inside cells.
“We were not expecting such a striking result from the pilot study,” says Dr Paul Watt, chief scientific officer of Phylogica. “We believe this is the first time anyone has shown a CPP-Omomyc fusion protein to be active in vivo, as to our knowledge, Omomyc has only previously been successfully delivered to tumours using a complex ‘gene therapy’ approach, associated with significant regulatory hurdles to clinical application.” Phylogica aims to have cancer drug candidates in 2016.
The Australian sharemarket welcomed Monday’s news, with Phylogica shares surging more than 80% at one stage, to close two-thirds higher, at 5 Australian cents. However, on Tuesday the shares slipped back to close at 3.7 cents, valuing the company at $A37.08 million ($28.18 million).
The CPP study followed December’s announcement of a research and licensing deal with US-based biotech Genentech (a subsidiary of Roche Group) to discover novel antibiotics, to treat ‘superbug’ infections. Under the terms of the agreement – the second-largest licence deal by an ASX listed biotech in 2014, behind Bionomics’ June deal with Merck – Phylogica received an upfront payment of $500,000, and is eligible to receive discovery, development and commercialisation milestone payments totalling up to $142 million.
The Genentech agreement is Phylogica’s fifth partnership with a global pharmaceutical company in the last five years – the others are with Janssen, Roche, Pfizer and Medimmune – which is an unprecedented number for an Australian biotech, Phylogica says.
James was founding editor of Shares magazine, and oversaw one of the most successful magazine launches in Australia. He has also written for BRW, Personal Investor, The Age and Management Today, and was subsequently personal investment editor at The Australian and editor of financial website, investorweb.com.au