BioProspecting NB Inc. (“BPNBI”) today released preliminary data indicating its cancer drug is as effective in reducing tumour growth in ovarian cancer as current chemotherapy while having no obvious toxic side effects. This information moves BPNBI’s targeted cancer management program with its new drug candidate to the next level.
The new drug was developed from research into one of the components of shrew saliva begun nearly a decade ago. Following positive studies with human ovarian and breast cancer cell cultures done in collaboration with the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute in Moncton NB, the Sackville biopharmaceutical company has completed a pilot study with human ovarian cancer transplanted into mice. In this pilot study, out-sourced at the BC Cancer Agency, BPNBI’s lead compound at the dose used, significantly reduced tumor growth as compared to the tumor growth in untreated animals, and was, comparable to the levels observed with standard chemotherapy (CAT: Carboplatin and Taxane) treatment for ovarian cancer. There was no observable toxicity resulting from the new treatment while typical problems appeared in the animals treated with standard chemotherapy. Unlike standard chemotherapeutic approaches, BPNBI’s technology is based on a non-cytotoxic approach targeting tumor physiology, thereby often sparing undesirable side effects. The cellular target of this treatment is produced at very low levels, or not at all, in healthy cells. Even at very high doses, delivered every day for two weeks, there was no toxicity observed. An unexpected result was bio-accumulation of the drug in lymph nodes where cancers often spread (metastases). These and further studies are in process.
“This milestone achievement indicates the Company’s lead drug candidate as a potential novel cancer drug. It also propels the Company to use its investments to complete required studies in animal models prior to seeking registration activities to initiate studies in humans.” stated Dr. Kenneth Keirstead, President and CEO, BPNBI.
Ovarian cancer was the sixth highest among new cancer cases diagnosed and fifth in number of deaths due to cancer in Canadian women in 1998. In 2004, 2,300 new cases of ovarian cancer representing 12 per 100,000 new cases of ovarian cancer in women in Canada (Canadian Cancer Statistics, National Cancer Institute of Canada, 2004). Similarily in the United States (2005), an estimated 22,000 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 16,000 women died from the disease. The incidence rate for ovarian cancer has been slowly declining since the early 1990s. Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality, or death rate, of all cancers of the female reproductive system, which reflects, in part, a lack of clearly recognizable early symptoms and proven ovarian cancer screening tests. Thus, ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary. It is estimated that approximately $2.2 billion is spent in the United States each year on treatment of ovarian cancer (National Cancer Institute).
Soricidin is a proprietary peptide isolated from the sub-maxillary saliva gland of the Northern Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda) that exhibits both paralytic and anti-tumor activity through selective ion channel modulation. The inherent bi-functionality is a rare phenomenon in small peptides and has not been reported in the literature. BPNBI’s activities have led to the separation of the paralytic and the anti-tumor domains of the parent peptide soricidin. Soricidin, its synthetic correlate Synthetic soricidin and a derivative peptide from the N-terminus all have paralytic properties. While the paralytic non-opioid properties of the peptide suggest potential application for non-addicting pain treatment (chronic and acute neuropathic pain), BPNBI’s Lead Optimization program has prioritized the cancer management capability of its program. In brief, derivative peptides synthesized from the C-terminus of soricidin are not paralytics and are not cytotoxics as they function through a targeted physiological mechanism, thereby minimizing typical side effect profiles found with standard chemotherapies. In brief, the peptides have pronounced effects on cancer cells, through inhibition of a novel calcium channel cancer target, TRPV6 (transient receptor potential, vanilloid 6). Cancers of the breast, ovary and prostate, for example, are deemed to proliferate through the over-expression of TRPV6, which initiates a pro-survival pathway. In essence, the unique bi-functional biological properties of the soricidin technology present a unique drug development opportunity.
BioProspecting NB, Inc.
BioProspecting NB, Inc. (“BPNBI”) is a private early-stage drug development company that was created in 2005 by Professor Jack Stewart and Paul Gunn (CFO) following the discovery and development of a proprietary peptide, soricidin. Soricidin is the basis for BPNBI’s targeted cancer management program focused on the putative role played by the non-voltage-gated calcium channel TRPV6 whose over-expression is associated with tumor proliferation in several cancers. Using focused innovative strategies in collaboration with major cancer research institutions, BPNBI’s derived proprietary peptides (the C-peptides) have demonstrated a capability to reduce cell viability and induce apoptosis (in vitro) and to reduce tumor volume (in vivo) with no demonstrable toxicity. The initial strategy is to qualify an ovarian cancer target for Orphan Drug designation while undertaking business development activities with related and other non-oncologic indications for the soricidin technology.
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