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e-Therapeutics (LON:ETX) today reported positive interim results from the UK phase 1a trial of cancer treatment ETS2101 (dexanabinol) in a variety of solid tumours.
The new treatment was well tolerated at all six dose escalations with no serious diverse events attributed to the drug, while there was also early signs of the possible halting of tumour progression.
In an earlier cohort, a single incident of dose-limiting fatigue was noted, but has not been repeated in any other patient to date, e-Therapeutics added.
UK clinical investigators now intend to enrol further patients at higher dose levels and to continue to escalate until a maximum tolerated dose has been established.
The possibility that tumours might be affected by higher doses of ETS2101 will be explored further in particular.
Professor Ruth Plummer, the trial’s principal investigator said: “In the last two cohorts (15mg/kg and 22mg/kg), we have seen a number of patients who have come onto the study with advanced progressive disease and have stayed on study in some cases for over five months.
"This suggests that the compound may be halting tumour progression as measured by RECIST criteria.
"We are excited by this initial observation, and are very keen to continue to escalate the dose to confirm this and explore if further possible anti-tumour effects will be found.”
Steve Self, e-Therapeutics’ development director, added: “The latest findings from ETS2101 are encouraging. We will continue to dose escalate to find the maximum tolerated dose and further explore the observations of possible activity in cancer patients that we have seen in the most recent two cohorts.
“These data, along with the US phase I data, are important in helping us to refine the next steps with this compound.”
Panmure Gordon noted that while a maximum tolerated dose has not been established, the comments regarding the halting of tumour progression were above and beyond what it had expected, although the dose escalation to even higher doses is critical.
The broker added that the patients recruited in this trial were very sick with few therapeutic options available to them, so to achieve a 'partial response', ie shrinking of the tumour significantly more than 30%, was a welcome outcome.
"With 17p of cash per share and a novel platform underpinning the investment thesis, we view today’s news as a strong conduit to a period of outperformance", it said.
"The fact that patients who had ran out of all therapeutic options managed to get some extra time in this life as a result of ETS2101 was a significant achievement for the company’s first shot at goal and underlines the value of the platform.
"Beyond the immediate pipeline, the main attraction of this operation is its technology platform that could revolutionise how the pharmaceutical industry conducts drug development.
Panmure has a 70p price target, based solely on the prospects for ETS 2101 (Dexanabinol) and a 'buy' stance.
Shares rose 7% to 23.5p.