Cancer drug companies combine

by IainBate 13. March 2014 12:17

NORTH West oncology company Incanthera Ltd has acquired University of Salford drug discovery spin-out Onco-NX Ltd.

The deal will see both companies combine their expertise in targeted anticancer drugs, to develop a ground-breaking therapeutics pipeline. It’s the first successful sale of a spin-out company from the University. 

Manchester-based Incanthera, launched in 2010, has developed a 'smart bomb' therapy which selectively targets solid tumours, avoiding harm to healthy cells. This development signals the potential of virtually no side effects to the rest of the body from treatment.

Onco-NX, launched in 2011, is dedicated to the discovery and development of new promising anticancer agents. It is developing a bioreductive agent called 'Es5'. Currently at the pre-clinical development stage, it is a pro-drug selectively activated by enzymes overexpressed in tumours. 

Incanthera is backed by the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford, where its academic founders benefited from the support of Yorkshire Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK.

The acquisition between Incanthera and Onco-NX is an opportunity for them to broaden and expand their drug development pipeline from a new Manchester base, in addition to their Liverpool office.

Dr Simon Ward, Incanthera's chief executive officer, said: "Acquiring Onco-NX was the perfect move for us as together we can combine our drug discovery expertise to develop leading cancer treatments. We're currently working on a number of new promising anticancer agents and have two drugs which are being prepared for clinical trials.

"Our long term ambition is to have these drugs licensed out to a multi-national pharmaceutical company for further development. Our ultimate aim is to hit the healthcare market with these drugs and make a real difference in the universal fight against cancer."

 

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Cancer drug companies combine

by IainBate 13. March 2014 12:17

NORTH West oncology company Incanthera Ltd has acquired University of Salford drug discovery spin-out Onco-NX Ltd.

The deal will see both companies combine their expertise in targeted anticancer drugs, to develop a ground-breaking therapeutics pipeline. It’s the first successful sale of a spin-out company from the University. 

Manchester-based Incanthera, launched in 2010, has developed a 'smart bomb' therapy which selectively targets solid tumours, avoiding harm to healthy cells. This development signals the potential of virtually no side effects to the rest of the body from treatment.

Onco-NX, launched in 2011, is dedicated to the discovery and development of new promising anticancer agents. It is developing a bioreductive agent called 'Es5'. Currently at the pre-clinical development stage, it is a pro-drug selectively activated by enzymes overexpressed in tumours. 

Incanthera is backed by the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford, where its academic founders benefited from the support of Yorkshire Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK.

The acquisition between Incanthera and Onco-NX is an opportunity for them to broaden and expand their drug development pipeline from a new Manchester base, in addition to their Liverpool office.

Dr Simon Ward, Incanthera's chief executive officer, said: "Acquiring Onco-NX was the perfect move for us as together we can combine our drug discovery expertise to develop leading cancer treatments. We're currently working on a number of new promising anticancer agents and have two drugs which are being prepared for clinical trials.

"Our long term ambition is to have these drugs licensed out to a multi-national pharmaceutical company for further development. Our ultimate aim is to hit the healthcare market with these drugs and make a real difference in the universal fight against cancer."

 

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AstraZeneca to sell Alderley Park site

by Admin 13. March 2014 11:56

AstraZeneca has announced the sale of its Alderley Park site in Cheshire, to Manchester Science Parks (MSP), a Greater Manchester based public-private partnership and science park operator.

The sale is part of AstraZeneca's plan to establish a new global R&D centre and corporate headquarters in Cambridge in 2016. The new site owners will expand on Alderley Park's heritage of scientific innovation and plan to ensure that the 400 acre site remains a life science and biotechnology campus. 

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said: "We believe that the sale of the site to Manchester Science Parks is the responsible and sustainable choice for the future of Alderley Park. The new owner is committed to building on AstraZeneca's life science legacy at the site and ensuring it remains a centre of biotechnology innovation in the North West of England. It will lead to future growth and offer significant opportunities for new jobs to be created."

Chris Oglesby, Chairman of MSP and Chief Executive of MSP majority shareholder, Bruntwood, said: "We are delighted to have been entrusted with securing the future of Alderley Park as a bioscience facility of world class scale and quality. We are committed to developing a bioscience business cluster of international importance on the site, making it a flagship location of its kind for the North of England and the UK."

 

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Targeted cancer drug may extend survival of cervical cancer patients

by Admin 12. March 2014 15:31

Erlotinib, a targeted anti-tumour agent, has shown promising potential to improve treatment for cervical cancer in a new clinical study.

Results from the study, published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, indicate that larger trials are warranted to determine whether the drug should become part of standard therapy for women with the disease. 

Cisplatin-based chemoradiation is the standard therapy for locally advanced cervical cancer.  Disadvantages to this therapy however include unpredictable and brief treatment responses. The new treatment strategy involves targeting the epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is frequently over-expressed in cervical cancer. Inhibiting this receptor is known to have anti-tumour effects against a variety of cancers. 

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among females. Every year nearly half a million new cases of cervical cancer are reported worldwide. Despite the widespread use of screening programs and the advent of vaccines against human papilloma virus (HPV), cervical cancer is still a significant public health problem.

Angélica Nogueira-Rodrigues, MD, PhD, of the Brazilian National Cancer Insitute, and her colleagues designed a phase 2 clinical trial to test the potential of the EFGR inhibitor erlotinib combined with chemoradiation therapy in 36 women with cervical cancer. Median duration of therapy was 77 days and median follow-up time was 59.3 months.

34 patients (94.4 percent) achieved a complete response (the disappearance of all cancerous lesions). After two years, 91.7 percent of women were alive, and 80.6 percent experienced no progression of their disease. After three years, 80 percent of women were alive, and 73.8 percent experienced no disease progression.

“While cervical cancer is a neglected disease and very few clinical trials have been reported in the last 10 years, some groups, including ours, have reported that its biology might be prone to targeted therapy,” said Dr. Nogueira-Rodrigues. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to present that a targeted agent has promising activity in the management of locally advanced cervical disease.” 

 

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Drugs | News

Prescription prices on the rise

by Admin 12. March 2014 12:53

NHS prescription prices are set to rise in April, with more price increases planned for the following year.

The government has announced that NHS prescription prices will rise by 20p in April, taking the price for each medicine or appliance to £8.05 in 2014 and to £8.25 in the following year.

This is an increase from the current £7.85 charged for each medicine, although around 90% of all prescriptions are currently provided free of charge to payment-exempt patients such as the over 60s and those on low income.

Under the new changes, prices are also set to rise for dental prescriptions, with band one courses of treatment rising by 50p to £18.50, band two rising by £1.50 to £50.50 and band three facing a £5 increase, taking the cost to £219.

Those buying prescription pre-payment certificates will be unaffected by the price increase, with prices remaining at £29.10 and £104 for three- or 12-month prescriptions respectively.  

In a statement released by health minister Earl Howe, the government defended the move as a necessary response to the “increasing demands on the NHS, with spending on medicines alone almost doubling since 2000.”

“The government has made the tough decision to protect the NHS budget and increase it in real terms, but charges for some items remain an important source of revenue to support the delivery of high quality NHS services,” he said.

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Trophos announces top-line results in pivotal trial

by Admin 12. March 2014 12:04

Trophos has announced promising results from a pivotal clinical trial of its lead product candidate olesoxime in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Top-line results show a beneficial effect on the maintenance of motor function in SMA patients. If approved, olesoxime could be the first treatment specifically developed for SMA patients. 

SMA is a rare, serious and debilitating paediatric-onset neurodegenerative disease that affects the motor neurons of the voluntary muscles used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control and swallowing. One in every 6,000 babies is born with SMA, which is the number one genetic cause of death in children under the age of two. Approximately 20,000 people worldwide are affected with the disease.

The pivotal study was conducted in seven European countries. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 165 type II and non-ambulatory type III SMA patients, ranging in age from 3 to 25 years old. Patients were randomized to treatment and evaluated every three months for two years.

The mutated gene responsible for SMA is carried by up to 20 million potential parents in the US and EU, most of them unaware that they are carriers. SMA patients all suffer from the degeneration of motor neurons controlling voluntary muscles, with proximal limb and trunk muscle weakness leading to respiratory distress and death in the most severe cases.

Results from this pivotal study showed a progressive loss of motor function in the placebo arm, as described for the typical disease progression and similarly documented in other observational and interventional trials. This loss of function, assessed as the primary endpoint, was prevented for two years in olesoxime-treated patients, with fewer disease-related adverse events. 

Detailed results will be published and presented at upcoming conferences in Europe and the USA. 

Dr Enrico Bertini, the principle investigator of the study, said: “Olesoxime has the potential to be the first ever approved treatment specifically developed for SMA patients. Its neuroprotective effect combined with fewer adverse events caused by the disease itself is encouraging. The results and data collected in this study on outcome measures and biomarkers will establish standards for future clinical trials in SMA patients.”

 

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Promising new blood test for Alzheimer's

by Admin 11. March 2014 10:36

A new blood test to predict the risk of Alzheimer's disease has been developed in the US.

A team at the Georgetown University Medical Center has developed the new blood test that could be used to predict a person's future risk of developing mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease within a three-year period.

The test, which has been shown to be able to predict the risk of the disease with greater than 90 per cent accuracy, identifies 10 lipids in the blood that predict disease onset. 

According to The Alzheimer's Society, dementia currently affects an estimated 650,000 people in England. Alzheimer's disease is responsible for around 62 per cent of these cases.

This development is the first time a blood-based biomarker test has been used to successfully identify preclinical Alzheimer's. It could be ready for use in clinical studies in two years, with other possible diagnostic uses, including the potential for developing treatment strategies for Alzheimer's at an earlier stage.

Study author and Professor of Neurology and Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center, Dr Howard Federoff, said: "Our novel blood test offers the potential to identify people at risk for progressive cognitive decline and can change how patients, their families and treating physicians plan for and manage the disorder."

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Marie Curie Cancer Care: “Terminally ill need more support”

by Admin 11. March 2014 09:47

NHS England has welcomed a report by a leading health charity into the support available to terminally ill people.

The report by Marie Curie Cancer Care has warned that some terminally ill patients are needlessly suffering because they are not getting the pain control at home that they need.

The report found "terrifying" delays for prescriptions and that carers of older people are feeling "abandoned".

Entitled ‘Difficult Conversations With Dying People and Their Families’, the report was produced from phone and face-to-face interviews and focuses on what “a good death” means - calm, peaceful and pain-free.

What is actually described in the report is the "sense of fog and confusion" about the services available to terminally ill patients and their carers, and a need for better access to pain relief for people at home. It also calls for more support, especially out-of-hours care overnight and at weekends.

The report says that the voices of terminally ill people and carers are often missing from discussions about end-of-life care.

NHS England says that it is developing a programme of action to improve care.

A spokesperson said: "Excellent care for everyone in the last days and hours of life should be a common understanding between professionals, dying people and their families and between professionals themselves, about what such care should look like.

"Building on the culture change outlined in Sir Robert Francis's report - namely to ensure high-quality, compassionate care, focused on the needs of patients - a system-wide programme of action is being developed to improve overall standards of care for dying people."

 

 

 

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CQC will improve hospital judgements

by Admin 10. March 2014 16:24

The Care Quality Commission has stated that it will offer hospital regulators further training to improve the consistency of their judgements. 

Chief Executive of Hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, revealed that improvements must be made, after the University College of London Foundation Trust successfully challenged its regulator’s plans to issue it with a warning notice. 

Proposed changes to the current system include a new inspection model, in which a trust can expect a visit from 30 inspectors and practicing clinicians. 

In addition, ratings will be presented in a colour-coded grid designed to help the public to see the strengths and weaknesses of each service.  Each service will be given an individual rating, from inadequate to outstanding, against five key questions. 

The regulator will then use these ratings to produce an overall score for each service. If a hospital rates poorly on two or more of the questions, the service will usually be rated as ‘requiring improvement’. 

Though Sir Mike Richards is keen to implement these improved changes, he is confident that the current standard of care is still fairly high. He said, “We’ve got a process that is, broadly speaking, a great deal more robust and reliable and fair than anything we’ve had before.” He went on to say that the critical care services had the most consistently high quality overall. 

Regulators will also be given a tutorial on report writing to further improve standards. 

 

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Cross-party revolt at Hunt's 'hospital closure' clause

by Admin 10. March 2014 13:12

The government is facing a cross-party revolt over plans to give the health secretary and his officials greater powers to close hospital accident and emergency departments and other NHS services.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt proposed the changes after he suffered a defeat when appeal court judges ruled that he had acted illegally in cutting A&E and maternity services at Lewisham hospital in south-east London. 

Ahead of a crucial Commons debate, a Lib Dem former health minister, Paul Burstow, has tabled amendments to the care bill that look likely to be backed by Labour and some rebel Tory MPs. 

Campaign groups have warned MPs across all parties that their constituency hospitals could suffer sudden cuts or closure before the 2015 general election, without proper public consultation.

Clause 119, dubbed the "hospital closure clause" by critics, was inserted into the care bill after the court of appeal ruled that Mr Hunt had acted beyond his authority in attempting to cut some essential services at Lewisham hospital in south London.

Lib Dem and Labour MPs and Tory rebels are calling for proper consultation with local doctors and service users before changes are made to successful hospitals.

The controversial clause gives powers to a "trust special administrator", appointed to a trust that is failing financially. The administrator would be able to recommend changes across a region. 

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "It is arrogance in the extreme for Jeremy Hunt to ask parliament to give him powers that the high court refused. No hospital in England is safe from this power grab, which would allow money-driven hospital closures to be imposed on any community.”

A Department of Health spokesperson defended the plans, saying: "The NHS is currently turning round a number of hospitals in special measures, many of which have had deep-seated problems for years.

"In extremis, when a trust goes into administration, it is necessary to give the administrator enough power to take the difficult decisions necessary to ensure patients get safe care.”


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