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Bionomics commences clinical trial for deadly asbestos related cancer

Australian drug discovery company, Bionomics (ASX: BNO) will commence a second Phase II clinical trial for BNC105 for patients with the deadly asbestos-related cancer (Mesothelioma).

BNC105 is a vascular disruption agent.

"We are expecting to report interim results of this study in mesothelioma patients early in 2011,” said Dr Deborah Rathjen, CEO of Bionomics, CEO Deborah Rathjen said today.

A Phase II testing of the anti-cancer properties of BNC105 in renal cancer has already commenced in the United States.

The commencement of these two Phase II trials follows a successful BNC105 Phase I clinical trial in patients with advanced cancers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Western Hospital, Austin Health and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Bionomics is collaboratiing with the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre to conduct the clinical trial in mesothelioma. 

“Mesothelioma has virtually no effective treatment after first line chemotherapy and patients typically have a life expectancy of less than 1 year. The long latency, or time for the disease to develop, means that we are yet to see the peak incidence of mesothelioma over the next decade.” Dr Rathjen added.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Malignant cells typically develop in the protective lining that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Research shows that the most common site is the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall.

Most people who develop mesothelioma previously held jobs where they were exposed to asbestos dust fibres. An increasing number of patients with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos in the building industry or through home renovations.

Despite treatment, mainly with chemotherapy, the disease usually carries a poor prognosis.

Dr Anna Nowak, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Western Australia is the trial’s Principal Investigator.  She said that an early clinical trial of BNC105 suggested some promise in mesothelioma.  The Phase II trial will provide hope and an opportunity to participate in a research study for people with mesothelioma who do not have other options for treatment.

Mesothelioma remains a substantial problem in Australia and other parts of the world.

In 2005, there were 597 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Australia and in 2006 there were 486 deaths attributed to mesothelioma. It usually is a fatal cancer, typically manifesting in patients 20 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

The clinical trial is a single arm, unblinded study for patients with mesothelioma who have progressed on platinum/pemetrexed chemotherapy. BNC105 will be administered on days 1 and 8 of 21 day cycles. Treatment will continue until disease progression.

The primary objective is to determine the tumour response rate. Secondary endpoints include progression free survival, quality of life, overall survival and treatment duration.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company