EpiCept Corporation has reported that studies characterizing a dual mode of action for Azixa, a compound licensed by the Company to Myriad Genetics, Inc. for the treatment of primary and secondary brain tumors, were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) in Los Angeles, California.
The findings presented by Myriad indicate the potential of Azixa to act as a vascular disrupting agent (VDA), in addition to its previously demonstrated apoptosis inducing capabilities. Vascular disruption of a tumor’s endothelium, the inner layer of cells lining a blood vessel, leads to a loss of blood supply to the tumor and subsequent tumor cell death.
Myriad reported that Azixa induced cell death in several primary types of a tumor’s endothelium, including micro-vessel endothelial cells. Myriad also reported that in human ovarian cancer xenografts, a single dose of Azixa induced dramatic tumor blood vessel damage and tumor cell death within 24 hours.
“Myriad’s findings are another indication of the substantial clinical opportunity that Azixa represents,” remarked Jack Talley, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our agreement with Myriad provides for significant financial benefits for EpiCept, both in the form of milestone payments and sublicensing income as well as future royalties in the event Myriad’s development of Azixa continues to progress successfully. In addition, the progress made by Myriad with Azixa also provides further validation of the potential of our earlier-stage oncology programs. Notably, we are continuing with our Phase I trial of EPC2407, a novel, small molecule vascular disruption agent and apoptosis inducer for the treatment of patients with advanced solid tumors and lymphomas, which was discovered through the same Anti-cancer Screening Apoptosis Program (ASAP) responsible for Azixa. EPC2407 is currently dosing its third cohort of patients in an ongoing Phase I study.”
Azixa is part of EpiCept’s MX90745 series of apoptosis inducers, which was licensed to Myriad as part of an exclusive, worldwide development and commercialization agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Myriad is responsible for all clinical development and commercialization of compounds from this series. Myriad is currently conducting two Phase II clinical trials for Azixa, one in patients with primary brain cancer and the other in melanoma that has spread to the brain.