The big noise internationally in the treatment of prostate cancer is an experimental drug called 177Lu-PSMA-617. It is what is called a radiopharmaceutical, meaning that it is a radioactive drug that is injected intravenously. It is a way of getting radiation to every prostate cancer cell in the body. And in late-stage prostate cancer, that can mean dozens of visible tumours throughout the body and also hundreds of tiny tumours too small to see.
After being injected intravenously, the drug finds its way to prostate cancer cells everywhere in the body. And that is big news in prostate cancer, because once a man develops late-stage prostate cancer, where every other drug has stopped working, being able to deliver radiation to every cancer cell around his body means hope for living longer.
The global pharmaceutical company, Novartis, saw such great potential in the technology that they paid US$6 billion last year to get their hands on it. And they currently are running a clinical trial in hundreds of men in the US and Europe, with the aim of what looks like getting it on the market by 2021.
That’s a great news for prostate cancer patients because at the moment it looks like being the only treatment available for men who have reached the end of their treatment journey. By paying US$6 billion, Novartis perhaps believes that they could be able to generate at least $1 billion p.a.
The issue to be considered here is that it cannot work in all men with prostate cancer, but this has also been observed in many anti-cancer drugs. The particular problem with 177Lu-PSMA-617 is that it only works well in a minority of men.
The treatment course is 6 injections, spaced 6 weeks apart, which means that it goes on for 8 months, which is a long time to find that the treatment doesn’t work. It has been observed that men stay on the treatment as long as they are responding. The issue observed here is that a larger proportion of men never get to finish the full course of treatment; their cancer starts growing while they are on the treatment.
The doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney wondered whether Noxopharm’s Veyonda® could change that. The idea was to evaluate whether Veyonda® could mean that more men complete their full course of treatment. St Vincent’s has been running a study called LuPIN now for about 18 months and they released the first interim data from the study to a conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The interim data from the LuPIN trial was presented at the SNMMI (Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging) 2019 Annual Meeting, attended by leading physicians and researchers related to the global multi-billion-dollar radiopharmaceutical industry.
The LuPIN trial has enrolled men who have undergone all available treatments and now have progressed cancer. These patients with end-stage disease are receiving a combination of Veyonda® and 177Lu-PSMA-617.
This interim data was presented by Associate Professor Louise Emmett, Director of Theranostics and Nuclear Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and the Principal Investigator of the study.
There were lots of data points mentioned, but the key one is that 56% of men on the LuPIN trial so far managed to complete the full 8-month course of treatment with relapsing. To date in other trials, it appears that less than 50% of men complete the full 6 cycles (36 weeks) without relapse of their disease. In other words, the LuPIN trial is already achieving its objective, which is a highly encouraging result. The trial has now been expanded to include an additional 24 patients.
Importantly, this effect was achieved in a well-tolerated way, with very few side-effects.
The Company is planning to upload a video of the presentation over the next few days, and can be seen by visiting www.noxopharm.com
Stock Performance: NOX is currently trading at AUD 0.475 (as at 12:10 PM AEST, 1 July 2019). The stock has delivered an enormous return of 156.76 per cent since it began trading on the Australian Stock Exchange. NOX has also generated a YTD return of 15.85 per cent.
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