Mundipharma buys rights to CellAct cancer drug

European independent pharma network Mundipharma has bought worldwide rights to develop, market and manufacture cancer drug CAP7.1 from Germany’s CellAct.

A network of independent associated companies, Mundipharma bought rights to CAP7.1, a novel pro-drug of anticancer agent etoposide which is metabolised into an active form by enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract that are particularly active in tumour cells.

The drug, invented at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, enables the focused release of this chemotherapeutic agent into tumour cells in higher doses while maintaining a good safety and tolerability profile.

The treatment will be progressed through phase 3 trials in biliary tract cancer by EDO, a contract research company with a worldwide network of clinical connections and expertise in developing cancer therapies.

Biliary tract cancer, including gallbladder tumours, is the second most common primary hepatobiliary cancer, after hepatocellular cancer.

Estimates suggest there are almost 140,000 deaths each year from biliary tract cancer; a 22% increase since 1990.

Despite the availability of surgery and chemotherapy options for early and locally advanced disease, patients are not able to access any indicated second line treatments.

In phase 2 studies CAP7.1 showed efficacy in this difficult to treat patient population, with 56% of patients meeting the primary objective of disease control, including tumour shrinkages.

CAP7.1 treated patients displayed an estimated one-year survival rate of 40%, which is approximately 20% higher compared with current standard of care.

Under the collaboration, CellAct will receive a double digit upfront payment and milestone payments. EDO will advance CAP7.1 into phase 3 clinical trials and reformulate the drug to enable manufacturing scale-up. CellAct and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, will also both receive sales-related income through tiered royalties and milestone payments.

Dr Thomas Mehrling, CEO at EDO, said: “We are thrilled to be taking this promising treatment into the next phase of clinical trials. By working with a network of experienced clinical partners, EDO enables efficient drug development and we believe this will be of benefit to accelerate the development a potentially life-changing treatment in this area of great unmet patient need.”

Paul Medeiros, Mundipharma’s senior vice president, corporate and business development, said: “At Mundipharma, discovering and developing novel medicines to treat underserved oncological diseases is a key strategic priority. Our alliance with CellAct adds an important new potential therapy to our oncology portfolio and builds on our expertise in smart chemotherapies.”

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