US-based Rexahn Pharmaceuticals has started dosing patients with Supinoxin in a Phase I clinical trial to evaluate the drug safety and effectiveness profile in patients suffering from solid cancer tumours.

Also known as RX-5902, Supinoxin can be administered orally in patients and is a molecule inhibitor of phosphorylated-p68 RNA helicase (P-p68), which is found only in cancer cells and increases the activity of several cancer linked genes such as cyclin D1, c-jun and c-myc.

P-p68 has been found to have over-expression in solid tumour cases such as of melanoma, colon, ovarian and lung and aids in tumour progression and metastasis.

Rexahn chief executive officer Dr Peter Suzdak said: "Supinoxin is Rexahn’s third oncology compound to enter into clinical development and represents an important part of our expanding clinical development pipeline."

Conducted in multiple centres, the dose-escalation Phase I study will evaluate the safety, tolerability, toxicities and maximal tolerated dose (MTD) in patients.

Secondary endpoints of the study will comprise pharmacokinetic profile characterisation of the drug and studying the initial anti-tumour effects.

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Supinoxin has shown an ability to restrict the growth in 18 human cancer cell lines such as those of breast, colon, pancreas, ovarian, and stomach cancers, and also in drug-resistant cancer cells in preclinical studies.

Greenville Health Systems Institute for Translational Oncology Research (ITOR) medical director Dr Joe Stephenson said that Supinoxin represented an interesting approach for the treatment of cancer patients with solid tumours.

Image: Mammograms of a normal breast (left) and a cancerous breast (right). Photo: courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.