Noxopharm Limited (ASX:NOX) CEO & CMO Dr Greg van Wyk talks about interim data at 24 weeks for the company's DARRT-1 clinical trial for prostate cancer.
Jessica Amir: Hello, I'm Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network and today I'm with Noxopharm (ASX:NOX) chief executive officer and chief medical officer, Dr Greg van Wyk. Dr. van Wyk, welcome back.
Dr Greg van Wyk: Thanks Jess. Good to be back.
Jessica Amir: Thank you for coming. So first off, for those who aren't familiar, would you mind just reminding us what cancer treatment Noxopharm (ASX:NOX) is currently developing?
Dr Greg van Wyk: So Noxopharm (ASX:NOX) is a Australian listed pharmaceutical company focused on drug development in the cancer space and we have a drug called Veyonda which is already in the clinic. So we are testing Veyonda in combination with radiotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer and at this stage we have two trials running in men with late stage prostate cancer. One with the use of external beam low dose radiotherapy and the other with an injectable form. So today we'll be talking about the dart one study which is the external beam radiotherapy study.
Jessica Amir: Greg back in February we learned about your interim results after patients received treatment for three months or twelve weeks and now we're learning about your data this week after patients have received treatment for 24 weeks or 6 months. First up, tell us about the data and secondly why it's so encouraging.
Dr Greg van Wyk: So in DARRT, patients receive a short course of Veyonda and low dose external beam radiotherapy. So 15 days of treatment all up and we saw that at three months a substantial proportion of men had achieved a good response both in terms of pain reduction and in terms of the effect on the treatments themselves. What we've seen now at six months of follow up is that many of these responses have been maintained and when you think of the fact that these patients have been six months without treatment, it's quite a remarkable outcome.
Jessica Amir: Greg, what's next for this particular group of DARRT-1 clinical trial patients and secondly what can shareholders expect in terms of news flow for this particular set of trials?
Dr Greg van Wyk: The group of patients that we've presented in the results today, we're gonna continue to follow them up well into 2020 we hope. What we're hoping to see there is that these patients continue to do well, bearing in mind that this is in essence a palliative trial where these patients right at the end of their life are getting treatment to help keep them comfortable. If we're able to see that some of those patients are living for a longer time, and hopefully along the way enjoying more time with their family, then that would be a fantastic outcome not just for them, but obviously also for Noxopharm.
Jessica Amir: Noxopharm has recently spoken about research that the company's produced showing that Veyonda has similar properties to immuno-oncology drugs, so how does this piece of research fit in with this week's results?
Dr Greg van Wyk: The immuno-oncology era that really has emerged over the last ten years in the treatment of cancer whereby these drugs help the body to recognize tumours is foreign and therefore to attack the tumour cells has really been quite a revelation. In fact, the recent Nobel prize for physiology and medicine went to the team that really did a lot of the work on this. So it really is quite exciting. One of the challenges in treating cancer is that cancers have a veil over them that prevents the immune system from recognizing the cancer cells as foreign and the immuno-oncology agents really help to lift that veil so to speak. We're hoping that Veyonda will play just that sort of role based on some of the pre-clinical research that we've recently seen. We've seen that Veyonda does in fact engage the immune system.
Dr Greg van Wyk: Now how that links to the Dart trial is that we've seen with these immuno-oncology agents that it can take some time for the effects on the cancers to become apparent whereby patients who enjoy a response, what is most remarkable about that response is that having responded they maintain that response for a very long period of time. Now that's something that we believe we may have seen a signal for in the DARRT trial and so it may well be the beginnings of a clinical backup for that pre-clinical work that we've done.
Jessica Amir: Just lastly before we let you go, just on that, if these kinds of results continue what does this potentially mean for Nox shareholders?
Dr Greg van Wyk: In this trial we saw 36 per cent of men have a PSA response in any point in time. If that translates into life prolonging treatment and we see that in phase three, then we will definitely be onto a treatment that has the potential to well and truly put Noxopharm on the global stage and that would be significant for shareholders. It would also be significant for patients because we need more treatment for people with late stage prostate cancer and we're really motivated by the proposition of bringing just such a treatment to market.
Jessica Amir: Dr Greg van Wyk thank you so much for the update.
Dr Greg van Wyk: Thanks so much Jess.