Phase II study results from French biotech Cerenis Therapeutics show that a drug initially developed to treat cardiovascular disease could be used to deliver treatments for esophageal cancer.
The drug, CER-001, mimics a member of a lipoprotein family called HDL, which reacts with a number of different receptors that are highly expressed in some cancers. In the Phase II trial, patients with esophageal cancer were first given a radiolabeled version of CER-001. The patients then underwent a PET-CT scan to see whether the drug targeted esophageal tumors.
Preliminary results from five patients showed the drug increased the signal from esophageal tumors by 50% in all five patients. Based on these findings, Cerenis believes CER-001 could help deliver esophageal cancer treatments to specific cellular targets. According to Cerenis, they are the first company with clinical data on HDL-based drug delivery.
Because HDL also transports cholesterol around the body, CER-001 was first developed as a cardiovascular drug. However, Cerenis failed two Phase II studies last year and in 2014 testing the same drug for treating a cardiovascular disease called post-acute coronary syndrome.
Lipoproteins like CER-001 are biodegradable, which makes them well-suited as drug-delivery compounds. Nonetheless, current lipoprotein drug delivery methods have mainly reduced treatment toxicity without increasing efficacy. While the Cerenis’ Phase II imaging results suggest CER-001 could lead to more target-specific treatments for esophageal cancer, we still have to see how it holds up when combined with a drug that actually attacks tumor tissue.
Image by Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock