Squamous carcinoma

US-based Tracon Pharmaceuticals has begun a Phase Ib clinical trial of TRC105, a clinical stage antibody to endoglin, in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab), and carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Endoglin is a protein overexpressed on proliferating endothelial cells that is essential for angiogenesis, the process of new blood vessel formation, while bevacizumab is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor.

The company develops new targeted therapeutics for cancer, wet age-related macular degeneration and fibrotic diseases.

Around 18 patients with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer who have not received prior Avastin or systemic chemotherapy are expected to be enrolled in the trial.

Tracon president and CEO Charles Theuer said: "Angiogenesis is a major contributing factor to lung cancer and despite recent advances, lung cancer remains a disease with limited treatment options.

"Previous clinical studies have demonstrated that TRC105 is well tolerated in combination with Avastin, and based on the positive safety profile and strong scientific rationale, we are moving forward with this Tracon-sponsored clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of the combination with standard chemotherapy agents recommended to treat this disease."

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"Angiogenesis is a major contributing factor to lung cancer and despite recent advances, lung cancer remains a disease with limited treatment options."

Top-line data from the Phase Ib trial is expected to be reported next year.

The company also intends to begin pivotal studies of TRC105 in the ultra-orphan indications of angiosarcoma and gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN).

TRC105 is currently being studied in multiple Phase II clinical trials as a treatment for multiple solid tumour types.

The company noted that the ophthalmic formulation of TRC105, DE-122, is being developed in a Phase I trial in Wet macular degeneration (wet AMD).

Image: Micrograph of a squamous carcinoma, a type of non-small-cell lung carcinoma. Photo: courtesy of Nephron.