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Early Trial Underway Testing Brain Cancer Drug

Brain silhouettes (


24 December 2014. Kinex Pharmaceuticals, a developer of cancer therapies, began an early-stage clinical trial of an experimental treatment for tumors of support cells in the brain. The Buffalo, New York biotechnology company says the first patient received the drug code-named KX2-361 in the trial taking place at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, also in Buffalo, and the Cleveland Clinic, as well as a third site to be named.

The trial is testing KX2-361 in patients with glioma, cancers affecting glial cells that surround and support the brain’s nerve cells. Cancers of this type, including glioblastoma, can be aggressive and highly malignant. Glioma accounts for about a third of all brain cancers, including the kind contracted by the late Ted Kennedy, U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

KX2-361 acts by inhibiting growth of structural elements in tumor cells and signaling enzymes supporting tumor growth. Kinex developed the small molecule drug with its Memetica platform for designing enzyme inhibitors that the company says produces compounds with qualities similar to drugs and a framework for creating drugs taken orally.

Kinex says in preclinical tests KX2-361 clears a wide range of brain tumor cells, including tumor cells resistant to common chemotherapy drugs, in 30 to 60 percent lab animals after 4 weeks of treatments. In these tests, KX2-361 induces more cancer cell death than chemotherapy drugs, and also generates an immune response to glioblastoma. In addition, the tests indicate the drug is absorbed when taken orally and achieves 75 percent penetration into brain tissue.

The company licensed KX2-361 to XiangXue Pharmaceuticals in Guangzhou, China for commercialization in China. XiangXue says it expects to begin an early-stage trial of KX2-361 in China following approval from regulatory authorities.

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