Novogen Launches Joint Venture Aimed At Developing Drugs to Fight Ovarian Cancer
SYDNEY, Nov. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Novogen Limited (Australian Securities Exchange: NRT and NASDAQ: NVGN), an Australian biotechnology company dedicated to developing drugs that provide long-term remission through the successful control of cancer stem cells, today announced a joint venture with Yale University dedicated to developing personalized approaches to chemotherapy to fight ovarian cancer.
The joint venture, which will be based near Yale’s campus in New Haven, CT, will be known as CanTx, Inc. Novogen will own 85% of the new company and Novogen CEO Graham Kelly, PhD will be CEOoft the new joint venture as well. The CanTx Board will be comprised of directors representing both Novogen and Yale.
CanTx will assume responsibility for advancing Novogen’s super-benzopyran drug technology into the clinic for the treatment of ovarian cancer. CanTx’s first development candidate, designed to seek out cancer cells and deliver a payload of a Novogen drug that has been shown to be highly cytotoxic against ovarian cancer cells including ovarian cancer stem cells, is expected to enter clinical studies in 2014. The investigational product will be administered intra-peritoneally to women with ovarian cancer.
“There have been no new therapies for ovarian cancer in the last 30 years and a fresh approach is urgently needed,” said Gil Mor, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Yale University School of Medicine. “Current chemotherapy unfortunately only does half the job. It is reasonably effective at killing the predominant somatic cancer cells, but by not killing the source of the cancer, the cancer stem cells, the cancer is highly likely to recur.”
Dr. Mor, who will co-lead clinical development efforts for CanTx, is the first researcher in the world to isolate ovarian cancer stem cells, the cells responsible for the initial growth of ovarian tumors and their recurrence following chemotherapy.
“Around 70% of ovarian cancer patients who respond to first round chemotherapy will eventually experience tumor recurrence,” Dr. Mor added. “Our research with the Novogen super-benzopyran family of drugs shows a high degree of activity against ovarian cancer stem cells where no other approach has worked in our experience to date. We believe that by combining this powerful new personalized approach with our unique drug delivery model, we may be able to treat ovarian cancer and prevent its recurrence.”
Dr. Mor and his team have developed an innovative targeted delivery system for that allows the entire dose of the injected drug to reach the intended target in mice. Typically, when anti-cancer drugs are injected intravenously, approximately 3% of the drug actually reaches the tumor. With this new delivery system, it is anticipated that virtually all injected drug will reach its target.
“This joint venture with Yale brings a level of expertise, resources and firepower that is unique in the field of ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Kelly. “This program will be the first in the world that I am aware of that is dedicated to finding an effective treatment for ovarian cancer, with the advantage that promising treatments are capable of being moved quickly into clinical studies in months instead of years.”
The longer-term goal is to go one step further and provide personalized chemotherapy approaches that matches the best chemotherapy to the individual.
“To achieve this lofty goal, you need two fundamentals: on the one hand, the ability to extract the cancer stem cells from an individual cancer in order to assess the sensitivity of an individual tumor to drugs; on the other hand, to have the drugs that can be modified to work across individual tumor genotypes,” Dr. Kelly added. “Yale and Novogen are uniquely positioned to leverage these fundamentals and is why they have joined forces to combat this deadly disease. Yale has the expertise in cancer stem cells culture; Novogen has the drug technology capable of killing these tumor-initiating cells.”
Under this joint venture arrangement, Novogen retains full ownership of its drug technology intellectual property (IP) and will grant CanTx access to that IP for drug development purposes. Novogen will continue to explore applications of the same technology platform in a range of other clinical indications including glioblastoma, along with its anti-tropomyosin drug technology in the areas of prostate cancer, melanoma and neuroblastoma.
About Ovarian Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that over 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during 2013 and 14,230 American women will die from the disease. It ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. This cancer mainly develops in older women. About half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older. It is more common in white women that African-American women.
Novogen Ltd is a public Australian biotechnology company whose shares trade on both the Australian Stock Exchange (symbol ‘NRT’) and NASDAQ (symbol ‘NVGN’). The Company is based in Sydney, Australia and is focused on the development of novel anti-cancer drugs based on two proprietary drug technologies — the super-benzopyran chemical family and anti-tropomyosin drug technology.
About Cancer Stem Cells
Cancer stem cells are thought to be the tumor-initiating cells in many cancers responsible for both the production of the tumor mass and metastasis. Cancer stem cells have been confirmed in both ovarian cancers and glioblastoma. These cells are highly resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, a property thought responsible for tumor recurrence following successful initial therapy.
Dr Graham Kelly, Chief Executive Officer
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