Hutchison China MediTech Limited (LON:HCM, NASDAQ:HCM) has launched a phase I clinical trial in Australia of a drug that takes a completely new approach to tackling cancer.
HMPL-453 targets fibroblast growth factor receptors. These are central to several biological processes including the formation of blood vessels that supply tumours (a process called angiogenesis) as well as tissue growth and repair.
It is also thought the new drug, which is a small molecule, chemical entity rather than a harder-to-develop biologic, could prevent drug resistance.
It is a “sub-family” of the new breed of tyrosine kinases, which potentially provide an ‘on-off switch’ for cancer.
Chi-Med will look at the safety and how well tolerated the drug is while escalating the dosage.
HMPL-453 is being administered to cancer patients where treatment options have run out, so researchers will look for signs of efficacy too.
In pre-clinical studies, it was more potent and selective in the pathways targeted than other drugs in its class. It also had a favourable safety profile.
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