The UK Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has initiated a Phase I clinical trial of its resistance-busting drug candidate, EP0042, in cancer patients at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

EP0042 was originally discovered in a project led by Spiros Linardopoulos, the former team leader in Target Drug Discovery in the ICR’s Cancer Therapeutics and Breast Cancer Research Divisions.

Discovered at ICR, the drug is a dual inhibitor of cancer-driving proteins from the Aurora and FLT3 families, which means that it inhibits the activity of both simultaneously.

It can potentially counter drug resistance in cancer patients.

The Phase I trial of the drug will be carried out in study centres in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia.

On obtaining successful results from the Phase I trial, the drug will progress to larger trials and could potentially become a novel therapy for cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia and neuroblastoma.

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ICR cancer therapeutics head Dr Olivia Rossanese said: “EP0042 is an innovative drug, targeting both Aurora and Flt3, and could ultimately counteract drug resistance in cancers, including acute myeloid leukaemia and neuroblastoma.

“It’s always a real pleasure to see one of our drugs enter Phase I trials – it’s the culmination of our work to translate our scientific understanding of how cancer grows into new therapies to treat patients.”

The ICR-led drug discovery and development research was carried out in partnership with the international oncology-focused drug development company Ellipses Pharma.

According to the collaboration, Ellipses Pharma was fully in-charge of the development programme, including additional preclinical studies and reformulation of the drug product to obtain a clinical trial authorisation.

It also took the responsibility of advancing EP0042 into the clinic for the first-in-human clinical trial and any additional clinical studies required.