Noxopharm Limited (ASX:NOX) Managing Director and CEO Dr Graham Kelly updates the latest interim results from the Company's Phase 1b clinical study (CEP-1) involving the use of its lead drug candidate, NOX66, in a combination treatment.
Jessica Amir: Hi. I'm Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network, proudly joined by Noxopharm (ASX:NOX) Managing Director and CEO Dr Graham Kelly. Welcome back.
Dr Graham Kelly: Thanks, Jessica.
Jessica Amir: So, congratulations. You've just released some encouraging data at the Cancer Conference in Paris, but just tell us what the study's really all about.
Dr Graham Kelly: The summary is that we're using patients who have got late-stage cancers, various types of cancers, common cancers, and these are patients who are eligible for palliative chemotherapy. In other words, chemotherapy that is not going to cure anything, it's just going to aim to keep them alive a little bit longer. We've shown that our treatment is able to stop the progression of that cancer, but to do so without causing any harm to the patient.
Jessica Amir: Well, that is a pleasing announcement. Now can you tell us about the study, the treatment that you're giving, and how many people are involved in the study?
Dr Graham Kelly: The treatment was a combination. It's the Noxopharm drug called NOX66, and we used it in combination with another drug called carboplatin, but we gave the carboplatin at half of the normal dose, and that's a dose that you would not expect to have any meaningful anti-cancer effect in patients. So, together, we were hoping that that combination would provide a meaningful clinical response. Now, there were 15 patients. These were a mixture of breast cancer, lung, prostate, and ovarian cancer. Those four types.
Jessica Amir: And, Graham, aside from, of course, importantly elongating people's lives, what else were you really hoping to achieve?
Dr Graham Kelly: There were two main objectives. The first was to see whether this combination therapy that we've developed would be well tolerated by the patient, because I think most people understand that chemotherapy generally has a lot of side effects and can be quite damaging. So, we wanted to see whether this chemotherapy regimen that we've put together would be well tolerated. That was the first objective.
The second objective was to see whether we could actually stop the growth of the cancer in these patients.
Jessica Amir: Graham, what exactly did you see in the study?
Dr Graham Kelly: Well, there were 15 patients that we started with. One of those 15 had an allergic reaction to the carboplatin drug, so that patient had to come off the study, which left 14 patients. And out of that 14, 12 of them, after three months of treatment, had not shown any progression in their cancer. Two of the 14 had, and they, of course, came off study, but 12 of 14 did not show any disease progression.
It's important to make the point, I think, Jessica, that this is not about survival. That's for later. What we're looking at now is asking a very simple question, can we stop the cancer from growing? That was what we've answered in the study.
Jessica Amir: So, what's the significance of these results to cancers generally?
Dr Graham Kelly: Well, in this study we used patients who were end-stage. In other words, they've had this disease for some time, it's progressed, it's now stopped responding to any other form of therapy. So, these patients are at a point of the only therapy that's available is really palliative therapy, which generally means it's there to treat the symptoms of the disease, not to stop the disease.
So, what we've shown here is that it is in fact possible to go beyond that and to actually stop the progression of the disease. So, I think that's the main message to be taken out of this study.
I think it's also important to make that point that there were four different cancer types we looked at here. Now, with only 14 patients it's not possible to have a lot of these tumour types. In fact, five of the 14 were breast cancer patients, and all five breast cancer patients showed no disease progression after three months. We've yet to look at other cancers, but I think the fact that it's worked across four major common forms of cancer is highly encouraging.
Jessica Amir: And lastly, Graham, where to from here?
Dr Graham Kelly: Well, this was just a sighting study. We asked the question, is it worth going further? And the answer very clearly is, yes, it is worth going further. So, the next study will need to be a larger study involving larger numbers of patients, probably just one or two cancer types, and we also need to ask the key question, how durable is the response that we've seen? I mean, up till now we've just treated patients for three months. Now, the next question is, well, what happens after six or 12 months? Can we extend that blockage of cancer growth?
Jessica Amir: Well, Dr Graham Kelly, very pleasing results. Congratulations and thanks for the update.
Dr Graham Kelly: Thanks, Jessica.