The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has announced the start of a Phase II clinical trial of a drug named idetrexed, created by scientific teams in its Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery.

The trial will further test the safety and effectiveness of idetrexed in a larger group of patients with ovarian cancer, specifically.

It is conducted along with Algok Bio and BTG International, which have partnered with the ICR earlier in the drug’s development.

Algok Bio gained the rights to develop and market idetrexed globally, as part of an exclusive license agreement signed with BTG.

BTG will receive an upfront and tiered royalty payments from Algok Bio along with additional payments upon receiving specific regulatory and sales milestones.

Idetrexed has already demonstrated promising results in ovarian cancer patients in a Phase I trial, led by ICR’s researchers and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London.

The trial treated a total of 109 platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients with high or medium expression of alpha folate receptor (FRα) with idetrexed.

Nine patients out of 25 who received the recommended phase II dose, showed tumour shrinkage with overall response rate of 36%.

ICR and The Royal Marsden Drug Development co-director and Phase I study principal investigator professor Udai Banerji said: “Idetrexed is a small molecule targeting FRα-overexpressing cancers that has shown significant single agent activity in Phase I clinical trials.

“In a similar stage of development, idetrexed has shown comparable efficacy to drugs such as antibody drug conjugates that have gone on to successful late phase development.”