Protherics' cash injection bodes well for biotechnology

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Hypertension Immune system

BioPharmaceutical company Protherics, were on hand at the
PiperJaffray conference providing pipeline and company updates to a
audience of investors and analysts. The company are coming off the
back of a successful deal with Astrazeneca for its CytoFab

The deal is a welcome cash boost for the British-based firm who believe that the injection will open up fresh avenues previously barred by a lack of resources. Biotechnology has previously cited cash finance as the biggest factor in a stuttering product pipeline.

Andrew Heath, CEO of Protherics said: "The cash will allow us to fund our oncology work. We can now move to the next step of our development a lot quicker."

Protherics are also encouraged by the progress made with the Phase I study of Prolarix, its novel targeted cancer therapy based on a prodrug system involving the co-administration of two small molecules.

This approach exploits the finding that an endogenous enzyme called NQO2 is over-produced in a number of cancers, including hepatic cell carcinoma (HCC), relative to normal human tissues.

"So far 13 patients have been treated to date. What we have found is the prodrug tretazicar has been activated in all the patients that have received combination dosing to date,"​ Heath said.

"Doses of tretazicar are being escalated to potentially therapeutic levels, as a result,"​ he added.

Once the maximum tolerated dose has been determined, Protherics intends to start a phase 2 trial in patients with HCC to demonstrate proof-of-concept for Prolarix as a targeted chemotherapy. Final results are expected in the first half of 2007.

Protherics are also pinning its hopes on its angiotensin vaccine that is being developed for the treatment of high blood pressure and is currently in an

Protherics believe its angiotensin vaccine may offer a way of improving control of blood pressure by increasing patient compliance with treatment.

A first generation formulation of the product showed encouraging results in Phase II clinical trials in patients with mild/moderate hypertension. The new formulation, which incorporates a novel vaccine adjuvant, has shown evidence of stimulating a much stronger immune response in models.

"Protherics is planning to conduct a Phase IIa study with the new formulation in 2007, with a view to demonstrating clinically meaningful reductions in blood pressure,"​ said Heath.

A Phase IIa clinical study in hypertension has been planned to start in the second half of 2007.

High blood pressure is one of the most common medical conditions in developed countries and is a risk factor associated with heart attacks, heart failure, blood vessel problems and kidney damage.

Current treatments are tablet based, requiring daily doses, often for life, and patient compliance is often poor. The pharmaceutical market for high blood pressure treatment is the largest single therapeutic sector in the world, with global sales exceeding $30bn (€24bn) per annum.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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