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Keryx Receives FDA Fast Track Designation for KRX-0401 (Perifosine) for the Treatment of Refractory Advanced Colorectal Cancer

April 5, 2010

NEW YORK, April 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: KERX) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation for KRX-0401 (perifosine), the Company’s novel, potentially first-in-class, oral anti-cancer agent that inhibits Akt activation in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, for the treatment of refractory advanced colorectal cancer.

The Fast Track program of the FDA is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of new drugs that are intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. Fast Track designated drugs ordinarily qualify for priority review, thereby expediting the FDA review process.

A randomized, double-blind Phase 3 trial investigating perifosine in combination with capecitabine (Xeloda®) versus placebo in combination with capecitabine in patients with refractory advanced colorectal cancer is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2010 under a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) with the FDA.

Ron Bentsur, Chief Executive Officer of Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, commented, “We believe that this Fast Track designation adds substantial value to perifosine’s development in refractory advanced colorectal cancer. We intend to initiate the Phase 3 colorectal study in the second quarter, with study completion expected in the second half of 2011. With the SPA and Fast Track designation in place, we believe that commercialization of perifosine in this indication could potentially commence by mid-2012.”

In addition to colorectal cancer, perifosine is currently in a Phase 3 trial, under SPA, for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, with Orphan Drug Status and Fast Track designation granted.

KRX-0401 (perifosine) is in-licensed by Keryx from Aeterna Zentaris, Inc. (Nasdaq: AEZS; TSX: AEZ) in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

About KRX-0401 (perifosine)

KRX-0401 (perifosine) is a novel, potentially first-in-class, oral anti-cancer agent that inhibits Akt activation in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, and also affects a number of other key signal transduction pathways, including the JNK pathway, all of which are pathways associated with programmed cell death, cell growth, cell differentiation and cell survival. The effects of KRX-0401 on Akt are of particular interest because of the importance of this pathway in the development of most cancers, with evidence that it is often activated in tumors that are resistant to other forms of anticancer therapy, and the difficulty encountered thus far in the discovery of drugs that will inhibit this pathway without causing excessive toxicity. High levels of activated Akt (pAkt) are seen frequently in many types of cancer and have been correlated with poor prognosis. KRX-0401 has demonstrated both safety and clinical efficacy in several tumor types, both as a single agent and in combination with novel therapies.

About Colorectal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States. It is estimated that over 146,000 people were diagnosed with some form of colorectal cancer with over 49,000 patients dying from colorectal cancer in 2009. Surgery is often the main treatment for early stage colorectal cancer. When colorectal cancer metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body such as the liver) chemotherapy is commonly used. Treatment of patients with recurrent or advanced colorectal cancer depends on the location of the disease. Chemotherapy regimens (i.e. FOLFOX or FOLFIRI either with or without bevacizumab) have been shown to increase survival rates in patients with metastatic/advanced colorectal cancer. Currently, there are seven approved drugs for patients with metastatic/advanced colorectal cancer: 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), capecitabine (Xeloda®), irinotecan (Camptosar®), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®), bevacizumab (Avastin®), cetuximab (Erbitux®), and panitumumab (Vectibix®). Depending on the stage of the cancer, two or more of these types of treatment may be combined at the same time or used after one another. For example, FOLFOX combines 5-FU, leucovorin and oxaliplatin and FOLFIRI combines 5-FU, leucovorin and irinotecan. Bevacizumab, a VEGF monoclonal antibody, is commonly administered with chemotherapy. Typically, patients who fail 5-FU, oxaliplatin, irinotecan, and bevacizumab-containing therapies, and who have wild-type KRAS status receive EGFR monoclonal antibody therapy with either cetuximab or panitumumab. Once patients progress on these agents, there are no further standard treatment options.

About Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals is focused on the acquisition, development and commercialization of medically important pharmaceutical products for the treatment of life-threatening diseases, including cancer and renal disease. Keryx is developing KRX-0401 (perifosine), a novel, potentially first-in-class, oral anti-cancer agent that inhibits Akt activation in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, and also affects a number of other key signal transduction pathways, including the JNK pathway, all of which are pathways associated with programmed cell death, cell growth, cell differentiation and cell survival. KRX-0401 has demonstrated both safety and clinical efficacy in several tumor types, both as a single agent and in combination with novel therapies. KRX-0401 is currently in a Phase 3 trial, under Special Protocol Assessment (SPA), in multiple myeloma, with a Phase 3 trial in refractory advanced colorectal cancer, under SPA, pending commencement, and in Phase 2 clinical development for several other tumor types. Keryx is also developing Zerenex(TM) (ferric citrate), an oral, iron-based compound that has the capacity to bind to phosphate and form non-absorbable complexes. The Phase 3 clinical program of Zerenex in the treatment for hyperphosphatemia (elevated phosphate levels) in patients with end-stage renal disease is pending commencement under an SPA agreement with the FDA. Keryx is headquartered in New York City.

Cautionary Statement

Some of the statements included in this press release, particularly those anticipating future clinical trials and business prospects for KRX-0401 (perifosine), may be forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. For those statements, we claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Among the factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially are the following: our ability to successfully and cost-effectively complete clinical trials for KRX-0401; the risk that the data (both safety and efficacy) from the Phase 3 trials will not coincide with the data analyses from the Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials previously reported by the Company; the risk that fast track designation and priority review may not result in earlier approval; and other risk factors identified from time to time in our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Any forward-looking statements set forth in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. We do not undertake to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date hereof. This press release and prior releases are available at http://www.keryx.com. The information found on our website is not incorporated by reference into this press release and is included for reference purposes only.


    KERYX CONTACT:
    Lauren Fischer
    Director, Investor Relations
    Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.
    Tel: 212.531.5962
    E-mail: lfischer@keryx.com

SOURCE Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.


Source: newswire



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