Kazia Therapeutics (ASX:KZA) clinical trial update

Interviews

by Rachael Jones

Kazia Therapeutics Limited (ASX:KZA) CEO and Executive Director Dr James Garner provides an update on the company's two clinical stage drug development candidates for the treatment of brain and ovarian cancer.

Rachael Jones: Hello, I'm Rachael Jones for the Finance News Network. Joining me today from clinical drug development company, Kazia Therapeutics (ASX:KZA) is Executive Director and CEO Dr James Garner. James, welcome back to FNN.

Dr James Garner: Thanks for having me Rachael.

Rachael Jones: First up, could you start by giving us an introduction to your company?

Dr James Garner: Rachael, Kazia Therapeutics (ASX:KZA) is an oncology company. We're focused on the development of new cancer therapies, but we come at it from a slightly different angle for most of the biotech companies in Australia.

Developing a drug right through from the laboratory all the way through to market a product is a really, really, long journey for a company. It takes many years. It costs a great deal of resources and financial commitment, and unfortunately it has only perhaps about a 5 per cent success rate. We've tried to position our business around finding really great drugs where some of that work has already been done typically in a big pharma company and we can then bring it into Kazia Therapeutics (ASX:KZA) do some of the real value adding work around clinical trials and other development and then look to partner it out to a big pharma company for commercialisation. That means that it's a much, much shorter cycle for investors, perhaps three to five years typically, and it really takes out a lot of the risk and the investment that's required.

Rachael Jones: Now, before we talk about your trial program, could you talk about the instance of brain and ovarian cancer and their current therapies?

Dr James Garner: Well, the form of brain cancer we're targeting is a disease called Glioblastoma. It's the most common and the most aggressive form of brain cancer and it affects somewhere around 130,000 patients a year worldwide. Sadly, it was the disease that Senator John McCain in the US passed away from just recently. It's not as common as breast or lung cancer, but it's still quite a common disease.

Ovarian cancer affects perhaps twice as many patients a year worldwide. We have treatments for both of these diseases, but there are some real challenges in the use of these treatments. For brain cancer, the main drug that's used is unfortunately only effective for about one out of every three patients. For the remaining two thirds of patients, there's a huge need for new therapies and that's really where our company is trying to come in.

Rachael Jones: Now to your portfolio, could you start by giving us an update on the drug candidate for brain cancer?

Dr James Garner: Our brain cancer drug GDC-0084 is in a phase two clinical studies. We're currently treating patients, the study is running at the moment only in the United States and we're expecting to see some data from that probably early next year, some initial preliminary data. We also announced a collaboration very recently with St Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. This is one of the top children's hospitals in the world and they're looking at GDC-0084 in a form of childhood brain cancer as well so we actually have two clinical trials ongoing now.

Rachael Jones: Could you provide an update on the drug candidate for ovarian cancer?

Dr James Garner: Cantrixil, our ovarian cancer drug is in a phase one clinical trial at the moment, and that's taking place in the United States and Australia. That study has been underway for about 18 months and we're actually starting to see some data readouts now. It looks like the drug has very acceptable safety profile and we've now just moved into a period where we're looking to get a more definitive efficacy readout on the drug.

Rachael Jones: James, now let's turn to your finances and share price. What is your cash position and where will that take you?

Dr James Garner: Rachael, we as our 30th of June 2018, we had AUD$9.3 million in current assets. Now, that includes about AUD$6 million in cash and about three point $3.3 million in receivables, prepayments, that sort of thing. On top of that, we have about three and a half to AUD$4 million worth of securities in another ASX listed biotech company called Noxopharm (ASX:NOX), which is an asset that we can monetise at our discretion. Putting it all together, we have a war chest, if you like, of about AUD$30 million dollars upwards. That gives us the resources to take our programs through well into 2019.

Rachael Jones: Can you provide a comment on your share price?

Dr James Garner: I think it's probably fair to say that our share price reflects the fact that ours has been a business that's gone through enormous transition over the last 18 months. Kazia Therapeutics (ASX:KZA) was born out of a previous ASX listed biotech company, Novogen Limited and has really had a fundamental transformation to the business. Meanwhile, our two programs have made the transition into a very substantial clinical trials and this is always a long journey for investors to come along with, but I think we're now right where we want to be in the business and I think that's something that hopefully in the coming months will be reflected in the valuation of the company.

Rachael Jones: And last question James, what can investors expect in terms of news flow over the next year?

Dr James Garner: Rachael it's a great year ahead for Kazia Therapeutics (ASX:KZA). We have now two clinical programs ongoing, so we'll be seeing data readouts from both the GDC-0084 brain cancer program, and the Cantrixil ovarian cancer program. For GDC-0084, that begins early next year with primarily some safety data, perhaps some early efficacy data. Later next year are a really a meaningful efficacy readout for that drug.

For Cantrixil, we will also be seeing efficacy data somewhere in the middle part of next year, so a really exciting year ahead for investors. We're fantastically excited as well in the company because this is the point where we start to see a return on all the work we've put in, so a great year ahead, we hope.

Rachael Jones: Dr James Garner. Thanks for the update.

Dr James Garner: Thanks Rachael. It's a pleasure to be here.


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