Ovarian cancer drug trials to begin
Clinical trials are to begin on a new drug developed to treat ovarian cancer.
The therapeutic drug designed to slow tumour growth in the advanced stages of the disease has been created by Co Armagh-based biopharmaceutical company Almac Discovery in conjunction with experts from Queen's University, Belfast.
The scientists have been working on ALM201 for over six years, with the process now reaching the clinical trial stage.
There are around 7,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year.
The most common type is high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), which accounts for at least 70% of cases.
Almac Discovery said in the last two decades treatment has progressed very little, with five-year survival figures remaining unchanged for advanced disease.
It is hoped ALM201 could also be used to treat other forms of cancer.
The phase 1 trials, which were announced to coincide with the start of Ovarian Cancer Month, intend to determine a safe dose to treat patients with in further trials.
The study also aims to confirm that the drug behaves in the way researchers expect it to from their laboratory studies.
Stephen Barr, president of Almac Discovery, said: "Almac Discovery has worked for a number of years on this project and we are delighted to be entering clinical trials. This is a significant step in tailoring patient therapy and we are excited to be involved in advancing human health in this way."
Since 2008 the team in Almac Discovery, part of the Almac Group, has been collaborating with Professor Tracy Robson from the School of Pharmacy at Queen's.
They say they have demonstrated that ALM201 targets cancer stem cells.
Professor Richard Wilson from Queen's University is the lead investigator for the trial, which involves two further sites at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Manchester.
Professor Wilson said: "This drug appears to have a novel mode of action and, should it be found to have significant anti-cancer activity with limited side-effects, it has the potential to strengthen existing drug regimens and provide a new option for patients where resistance to therapy has become a problem."
If the clinical trial is successful it is thought the earliest the drug could be available would be 2022.