Moleculin Biotech has announced that Polish state agency Agencja Badań Medycznych (The Medical Research Agency) awarded a $1.5m grant to the Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute for a Phase IB/II clinical trial of Annamycin.

The clinical trial will examine the ability of Annamycin, a next generation anthracycline, in treating soft tissue sarcoma (STS) that has metastasised to the lungs.

STS is a type of cancer and the most common form of sarcoma. It starts in soft tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures.

Moleculin noted that the grant-funded clinical trial will be led by Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute Oncology Department of Soft Tissue/Bone Sarcoma and Melanoma head professor Piotr Rutkowski.

Rutkowski said: “There is a significant unmet need for improved treatments for patients with sarcoma lung metastases, so we are excited to begin this trial.

“Although this is considered a rare disease, there are no other clinical trials of this kind currently active in Poland, so it’s a tremendous opportunity for our patients.”

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Once metastasised to the lungs and if the tumours cannot be removed through surgery, the primary chemotherapy regimen is the anthracycline doxorubicin, dubbed ‘Adriamycin’.

However, only 10% to 30% of patients with sarcoma lung metastases may initially respond to doxorubicin and the most will relapse, leaving the majority number of these patients without any other chemotherapy alternative.

Annamycin has recently been shown in animal models ‘to accumulate in the lungs at up to 34 times the level of doxorubicin’.

Based in the US, Moleculin Biotech is engaged in the development of a wide range of oncology drug candidates used for treating highly resistant tumours and viruses.

Last week, the company signed an agreement with contract research organisation Catalyst Clinical Research for the trial of Annamycin, a next generation anthracycline.