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New Biotech Begins Work on Enhanced Platinum Cancer Drugs

Chemotherapy vials

(National Cancer Institute)

23 March 2016. A new biotechnology company began work today on developing improved platinum-based treatments for solid tumor cancers. The company, Placon Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a spin-off enterprise from Tarveda Therapeutics, a developer of biologic cancer drugs.

Placon Therapeutics focuses on new treatments for cancer using platinum as a cancer-killing agent that works by damaging the tumor cells’ DNA and preventing the cells from replicating. These drugs are part of many chemotherapies prescribed today for lung, bladder, cervical, ovarian, and testicular cancer. However, tumors can become resistant to current drugs with platinum, and the drugs cause serious side effects in some people, including kidney toxicity and low red- and white-blood cell counts.

The company is building on research by MIT professor chemistry Stephen Lippard, a scientific founder of Placon, making it possible to improve the efficacy of platinum-based drugs by increasing the amount of platinum absorbed by tumors and the length of time it remains active.  Placon’s lead product, code-named BTP-114, is designed to combine with the blood serum protein albumin to deliver these effects.

In a study presented at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting in April 2015, BTP-114 was given to lab animals with grafted lung and ovarian cancer. Among recipients of BTP-114 with favorable genomic profiles, tumors reported as much as a 13-fold increase in platinum uptake compared to the cisplatin, a conventional chemotherapy drug made with platinum.

Placon Therapeutics reports as well that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepted the company’s investigational new drug application, which clears the way to begin clinical trials of BTP-114. The company plans to test the drug among patients with solid tumor cancers that resist conventional treatments, and is seeking partners or investors for these trials.

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