Novogen (ASX:NRT) talks cancer therapy portfolio

Interviews

by Carolyn Herbert

Novogen Limited (ASX:NRT) CEO, Dr James Garner discusses developments in the company’s cancer therapies and company strategy.


Novogen Limited (ASX:NRT) is a biotech company focused on the development of new cancer therapies. We’re listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and also on NASDAQ (NVGN). And although our company has been around for a number of years in different guises, we’ve largely reconfigured the company in the last 12 months, by bringing in new talent, by broadening the pipeline of the company and really establishing Novogen now, as very much a clinical stage drug development organisation.

Our lead program is a drug for brain cancer and specifically for the most common and the most aggressive form of brain cancer, a disease called glioblastoma. And that drug has completed phase I human trials, so we’ve got great data now that speaks to the safety of the drug. And our plan is now to take it forward into a phase II clinical trial, to show the efficacy of the drug. That’ll be starting in the second half of this year. We also have a drug in phase I human trials for ovarian cancer. That started in December of 2016 and that trial is underway. So we’re looking forward to seeing new data from that clinical trial, towards the end of this year or beginning of next year.

And then finally, we have some early stage research activity, which has been partly funded through a $3 million grant from the Federal Government. The early stage program, which has been funded through a $3 million grant from the Federal Government, has focused on discovering some new targets for cancer drugs. We’re looking at the structure of the cancer cell, based on some research from the University of New South Wales and University of Boston, in the US. And so we’re really excited to be taking that forward, as I say, with the support of the Commonwealth.

Our company is focused largely on partnering with other larger companies, to look for undervalued opportunities that are not strategically prioritised, which we can take forward and add value to. So the transaction we did with Genentech at the end of last year, a part of Roche Holding Limited (OTCMKTS:RHHBY) the world’s third largest pharmaceutical company, is a great example of this. We’ve taken a drug that is, we believe full of promise, but is not quite strategically prioritised for Genentech at the moment. We’re looking to show the validity of that drug in brain cancer.

We’re certainly interested in exploring that model with other companies. This is something that has been done successfully by other biotech companies. There are examples in the United States and in Europe of companies that have very successfully partnered with big pharma, to take forward these un-prioritised, deprioritised assets and make great drugs available to patients, by doing so.

So as of 31st of December, we had about $18.6 million at bank and on top of that, we received $4.4 million through the Federal Government R&D tax rebate. So effectively that gave us a cash position of about $23 million, as of 31st December. We remain a pre-revenue company, but we do continue to benefit very extensively from the Federal Government R&D tax rebate. And over the next 12 months, we’ll be continuing to work on the programs unfolding.

We think this is going to be a very exciting 12 months for Novogen. We have clearly a very important job ahead of us to get the phase II clinical study for our lead program, our brain cancer program up and running. So 12 months from now, we would like to see that study very well underway. We’ll also hopefully be reporting some data from our ovarian cancer program as well, during that period. And I think that should be really exciting to see where we have a new treatment option, to offer to patients with ovarian cancer. So we think we’ve got a great 12 months ahead and looking forward to sharing it with the investment community.


Ends

Carolyn Herbert

Finance News Network
Carolyn joined FNN in August 2015 as the Head of News and also presented the Market at Midday and the Market Wrap. With more than five years of broadcast journalism experience, Carolyn has worked as a finance anchor on the Sky News Business channel and as an anchor and reporter for ABC News. She is also a qualified corporate lawyer specialising in IPOs, takeovers and mergers and acquisitions.