New bladder cancer treatment to be trialled in UK
An experimental therapy for bladder cancer is predicted to soon be entering Phase I clinical trials in the UK following a development pact signed between Cancer Research UK, its commercial arm Cancer Research Technology, and Sitka Biopharma, a Canadian biotech.
Sitka’s therapy (STK-01) is being developed to improve delivery of chemotherapy in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) for patients whose tumour has not yet penetrated the muscle layer of the bladder wall. The therapy uses a unique nanoparticle polymer technology to deliver the drug docetaxel.
Although docetaxel is an effective chemotherapy, it is still difficult to deliver enough of the drug to the bladder to treat the cancer. Researchers hope that STK-01 can overcome this by enhancing the penetration and retention of the drug within the bladder wall. According to the charity, in preclinical trials the results showed that the therapy was “extremely effective” at eliminating tumours in mouse models.
CR UK and Sitka will share the cost of the development and production of STK-01 for the clinic; the charity’s Centre for Drug Development will then fund and manage a Phase I clinical trial of the drug in bladder cancer patients to evaluate safety, toxicity, drug delivery and how it compares with giving docetaxel alone.
The trial will take place across the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) network, a nationwide initiative funded by Cancer Research UK and the UK’s four Health Departments.
“More than 5,000 people die from bladder cancer each year in the UK and we urgently need to find new and better ways to treat patients. We hope this experimental approach will improve survival for patients with invasive disease by increasing the amount of chemotherapy that can reach the tumour,” said Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s director of drug development.