PROJECT / TARGET FEASIBILITY PRECLINICAL PHASE I PHASE II PHASE IIB PHASE III
2017 - 2019 NZ-DTX NZ-STING NZ-IO-TLR9 NZ-IO-003-004 NZ-DOX
Local Treatment for Prostate Cancer
LIDDS most advanced project is Liproca® Depot for the treatment of prostate cancer. Liproca® Depot makes it possible to inject a well-tested anti-hormonal drug, 2-hydroxyflutamide, directly into the tumor region where Liproca® Depot forms a solid depot and releases the active substance slowly over a period of up to six months. It is estimated that the tissue concentration can be increased up to 40,000 times compared to oral treatment.
A phase IIb clinical trial is being conducted at urology clinics in Canada and Finland, aiming to identify the highest tolerable dose and to demonstrate that Liproca® Depot prevents the progression of early stage prostate cancer.
Three clinical trials with 57 patients have already been conducted with promising results for tolerability and safety as well as effect on tumor tissue, prostate volume and the PSA biomarker. Clinical data indicates that Liproca® Depot has an enhanced effect at higher doses, without the hormonal side effects that are common with tablet treatment.
The American Urological Association’s Journal of Urology published a scientific article presenting the results of two clinical trials on prostate cancer using Liproca® Depot (NanoZolid® combined with 2-hydroxy-flutamide at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28736321. The two trials had different set-ups and follow-up periods, but both demonstrated positive results for the PSA cancer marker, as well as reduced prostate volume without any hormonal side effects. The principal investigator in both trials, LPC-002 and LPC-003, was Professor Teuvo Tammela, from the Tampere University Hospital in Finland. Additional urologists in Sweden and Finland participated in the trial, together with several renowned researchers in the field of radiology and cancer. The LPC-003 trial was presented by Professor Teuvo Tammela at the European Association of Urology (EAU) in Munich in 2016.
About prostate cancer
Cancer of the prostate is one of the most common forms of cancer and approximately one million men are diagnosed with the disease every year.
It is estimated that by 2030 one in five men will be affected by prostate cancer. The total global market for prostate cancer is valued at USD 5 billion and the market potential of Liproca® Depot is significant as it can be an appropriate treatment for a large proportion of patients diagnosed with local prostate cancer.
The type of treatment being offered to patients with prostate cancer is determined by the stage and extent of the cancer, as well as by the patient’s general state of health and age. The alternatives include surgery, radiotherapy or pharmacological treatment. Despite technological surgical developments, surgery with removal of the prostate is still associated with side effects such as impotence and incontinence. Radiotherapy entails risks of fecal and urinary incontinence, as well as impotence. Hormonal treatment produces side effects such as hot flushes, decreased libido, impotence, fatigue and cognitive fatigue. After longer treatment, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease also occur.
Patients who do not have an aggressive form of cancer receive no treatment at all, but are followed up with regular monitoring, called Active Surveillance. For these patients, Liproca® Depot may cause tumor regression and prevent continued cancer growth without any of the adverse hormonal side effects caused by systemic therapy or possibly halt or stop the cancer progression avoiding a prostatectomy or radiation therapy with related side effects.
Lung cancer and Solid tumors
Based Based on the NanoZolid® technology, LIDDS has successfully developed a new drug candidate in combination with docetaxel, one of the most commonly used drugs for cytostatic treatment of breast, prostate, head, neck, stomach and lung cancer. Docetaxel has a global turnover of approximately USD 1 billion and the market potential is significant.
Cytotoxic drugs often cause severe side effects, limiting the dosage and effect as the entire body is subjected to the treatment. NanoZolid® technology offers a local and long-lasting treatment with reduced side effects from potent cytotoxic drugs that are otherwise given systemically in the form of injections or tablets.
A placebo-controlled preclinical trial of NanoZolid® in combination with docetaxel showed clear effects in the local treatment of lung cancer cell tumors without causing the severe side effects in laboratory animals as seen in systemic treatments. The research results were published in the prestigious scientific journal European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics as “Antitumoral effect and reduced systemic toxicity in mice after intra-tumoral injection of an in vivo solidifying calcium sulfate formulation with docetaxel” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28161551.
In drug release studies where docetaxel has been integrated into NanoZolid®, a clear depot effect is seen in vitro. This allows for a controlled release with a high and lasting drug concentration for the local treatment of tumors.
The first part of the Phase I study (NZ-DTX-001) will enroll patients for dose escalation after which patients will be treated intratumorally at a fixed dose to confirm tolerability. The primary objective is to study tolerability of NanoZolid®-docetaxel and a secondary objective is to assess efficacy on tumor regression.
NZ-DTX is a key project for LIDDS as most types of cancer tumors can benefit from the intratumoral delivery of cytotoxic drugs. The cancers of greatest interest to LIDDS are lung, head & neck, prostate and breast cancer, but other tumors may also benefit from treatment using NanoZolid® loaded with cytotoxic drugs.
An intratumorally sustained release of cytotoxic drugs can result in substantial tumor regression and facilitate subsequent curative surgery or radiation therapy and may prevent the tumor from metastasizing during the diagnostic lag period. Depending on the cancer indication, intratumoral treatment can also be combined with systemic drugs.
Around four million people are diagnosed with solid-tumor cancers each year and a very large number undergo diagnostic biopsies. LIDDS aim is that a significant proportion of patients undergoing diagnostic biopsies will be offered an injection of NanoZolid® combined with docetaxel.
Our objective is that NanoZolid combined with docetaxel will be regularly used to treat solid tumors, including at the tumor biopsy phase, to decrease the tumor size and improve surgery and radiation therapy outcomes. This will also benefit cancer patients that often have to wait many weeks before their treatment plan is decided.
LIDDS docetaxel strategy is to prove tolerability and tumor regression for a number of different types of cancer. LIDDS has combined NanoZolid® with docetaxel as it is indicated for a large number of common types of cancer types.
When proof of concept is reached, LIDDS objective is to divest or license the project to one or several pharmaceutical companies.
NanoZolid® technology works well for drug development in the treatment of diseases where there is a need for local, long-lasting effects and for minimizing side effects from potent drugs that are otherwise given in the form of injections or tablets.
With NanoZolid®, LIDDS has developed a new drug candidate with doxorubicin, a cytotoxic substance that is used for the treatment of many different types of cancer. In drug release studies a clear depot effect is seen in vitro. This allows for a controlled release with a high and lasting drug concentration for the local treatment of tumors. Cytotoxic drugs often cause severe side effects, which limits the dosage and effect as the entire body is subjected to the treatment.
Immunotherapy – improved impact, reduced side effects and fewer injections
Immuno-oncology is based on the principle of activating the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. However, with systemic immunotherapy the entire body is affected and serious side effects are common. With NanoZolid® technology local injections can produce an improved pharmaceutical effect, as well as a controlled release of the drug directly into the tumor region resulting in reduced systemic impact and side-effects.
In systemic immunotherapy, the entire body is affected, and serious side effects are common, especially with combination treatments. NanoZolid® technology can produce an improved pharmaceutical effect, as well as a controlled release of the drug directly into the tumor region. The locally activated immune cells are then transported via the blood to all parts of the body, where the tumor cells are attacked. A NanoZolid®-based formulation can result in fewer patient injections and a reduced burden on the healthcare system.
Many large pharmaceutical companies have begun preclinical or clinical trials for immune-modulating drug candidates, and several products have already received market approval.
LIDDS has begun researching and reviewing the integration of a broad range of immunotherapies with NanoZolid® technology. Contacts with a number of different universities and key opinion leaders have been established with a view to future collaboration.
NanoZolid® proven effect with STING agonist
STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) is one of the most promising novel target pathways in immuno-oncology. The scientific rationale for activating the STING pathways in tumors is that it could induce an innate immune response and direct tumor-killing T-cells to the treated tumor. This in turn would turn immunologically ‘cold’ tumors into ‘hot’ tumors, a prerequisite an anti-tumor immune response.
A pre-clinical study has demonstrated that NanoZolid® has the potential to reduce the burden on cancer patients and healthcare systems by producing a long-lasting effect in a range of different tumors with one injection of a NanoZolid®-formulated STING agonist.
Confirming the results of previous studies, the pre-clinical study showed statistically significant effects on tumor growth reduction and overall survival.
Due to the potent immune stimulatory effects of STING agonists, their use is restricted to direct intratumoral injections to avoid severe systemic side effects. As weekly or even more frequent injections are required with current STING drug products, a significant burden is placed on patients and the healthcare system, limiting the types of tumors that can be treated.
A single injection of a NanoZolid® formulated STING agonist can replace multiple injections and provide a safer, more convenient and potentially more effective treatment for cancer patients.
This marks the successful formulation of a compound class outside traditional small molecules highlighting the versatility of the NanoZolid® technology.
STING is one of the fastest growing areas of cancer immunotherapy and is being pursued by pharmaceutical companies around the world, including Novartis, BMS, GSK and Merck and the market for oncology immunotherapies is expected to grow to more than USD 100 billion by 2022.
A STING activating drug can potentiate the effect and increase the response rate of existing immunotherapies, particularly checkpoint inhibitors such as Keytruda and Opdivo. The promise of STING agonists and the rapid development of the field was highlighted in a recent issue of Chemical & Engineering News https://cen.acs.org/articles/96/i9/STING-fever-sweeping-through-cancer.html. The NanoZolid® STING formulation could be a significant part in bringing this new treatment to patients.