04 April 2024

CancerTreatmentDrugs_shutterstock_281731607.jpgInnovative biotech company Noxopharm Limited (ASX:NOX) and the University of South Australia have received $100,000 from Tour de Cure to progress encouraging preclinical work on a novel first-in-class brain cancer drug.

Tour de Cure is a charitable organisation which, since its founding in 2007, has raised over $117 million that it uses to fund research and support cancer prevention campaigns.

Noxopharm will match the grant with $100,000 dedicated to the ongoing project, which is being led by Dr Helen Palethorpe at the Tissue Architecture and Organ Function Laboratory at UniSA's Centre for Cancer Biology in Adelaide.

The glioblastoma drug candidate has been developed by Noxopharm from the Chroma™ platform, which comprises an extensive library of novel chemical entities (NCEs) that the company has developed and optimised for robust anticancer activity. These NCEs underwent a comprehensive and complex screening process to determine the most favourable and potent drug candidate for glioblastoma.

The Tour de Cure grant will support Noxopharm and UniSA's efforts to assess the mechanism of action of the drug candidate and identify biological indicators that could assist in stratifying glioblastoma patients who can benefit the most from this treatment. An added advantage is the increased insights into the company’s other oncology assets, such as its CRO-67 preclinical drug for pancreatic cancer, that the project will provide.

In a similar way to the pancreatic cancer patient tumour explant model that Noxopharm and UNSW Sydney are employing to assess CR0-67’s potency, UniSA uses glioblastoma tumours surgically excised from actual brain cancer patients, which can then be successfully grown in the laboratory for testing with Noxopharm’s drugs. 

This results in an optimised model that recreates the patient’s brain and tumour cells, as well as their 3D structure. Utilising such a cutting-edge approach to test Noxopharm’s drugs on patient-derived tumours gives the company a higher degree of confidence as to the potential of its novel drug to treat glioblastoma, especially when compared to more traditional and basic methods of drug screening.

Glioblastoma is the most frequent and lethal type of brain cancer, accounting for two-thirds of all Australian brain cancers. It remains an incurable disease with a median survival time of only 15 months after diagnosis. Few treatment options are currently available, and after initial treatment recurrence of the disease is almost inevitable.

The global glioblastoma market was worth around US$2.5 billion in 2022, and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 9.3%.

Lead UniSA researcher Dr Helen Palethorpe said: “I am so pleased with this Tour de Cure grant to support our work, which involves using advanced human brain tumours in a dish that I developed in our lab to investigate the mechanisms of action of this compound. At the same time, we are also identifying new biomarkers that can help in stratifying those patients that could benefit the most with this potential new treatment.”

Noxopharm CEO Dr Gisela Mautner said: “We are very grateful to the Tour de Cure team for funding this promising research. With this grant, our preclinical drug candidate is recognised as having potential that warrants further investigation and development.

“Glioblastoma is a particularly hideous form of cancer that kills 200,000 people worldwide every year. The lack of treatment options means there is a market opportunity for any company that can help improve survival rates and decrease patient suffering.”

About Noxopharm

Noxopharm Limited (ASX:NOX) is an innovative Australian biotech company discovering and developing novel treatments for cancer and inflammation, including a pioneering technology to enhance mRNA vaccines.

The company utilises specialist in-house capabilities and strategic partnerships with leading researchers to build a growing pipeline of new proprietary drugs based on two technology platforms – Chroma™ (oncology) and Sofra™ (inflammation, autoimmunity, and mRNA vaccine enhancement).

Noxopharm also has a major shareholding in US biotech company Nyrada Inc (ASX:NYR), which focuses on drug development for cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

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