Singaporean cancer drug has advanced into clinical trials, charting a milestone in Singapore's biomedical sciences initiative that will go towards improving the lives of cancer patients in Singapore, and worldwide.
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) today announced the start of a Phase I clinical trial of novel cancer drug candidate, ETC-159.
As ETC-159 is an inhibitor of these pathways, it could suppress cancer proliferation and prevent cancer progression. ETC-159 was discovered and developed through a collaboration between A*STAR's Experimental Therapeutics Center (ETC), Drug Discovery and Development (D3) unit and Duke-NUS since 2009. This was based on the discovery work of Professor David Virshup from Duke-NUS, who has continued to contribute to the development of the drug candidate.
The Phase I clinical trial will evaluate the safety and tolerability of ETC-159 in advanced solid tumors of up to 58 patients. The first patient was dosed on June 18, 2015. Dr. Benjamin Seet, executive director of A*STAR's Biomedical Research Council, said, “This breakthrough, which closely follows local company MerLion Pharmaceuticals' recent success in obtaining FDA approval for one of its drugs, marks an inflection point in Singapore's biomedical sciences initiative. Despite the protracted process of drug discovery and development, I am confident that we will see more locally developed drugs in the pipeline being tested and implemented.”
Virshup, inaugural Director of the Program in Cancer and Stem Cell Biology at Duke-NUS, said, “As the drug candidate provides a targeted cancer therapy, it could potentially minimize side effects and make cancer treatments more bearable for cancer patients.” D3 has obtained ethics and regulatory approval for this trial from the SingHealth Centralized Institutional Review Board (CIRB) and the Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) respectively.
The first two sites for the trial are the National Cancer Center Singapore (NCCS) and the National University Hospital (NUH), Singapore. Trial sites in the United States will be opened as the trial progresses.