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Paxalisib is a novel targeted therapy that modulates the PI3K pathway. Kazia licensed paxalisib (as GDC-0084) from Genentech in 2016 and is developing it as a potential treatment for glioblastoma in a Phase II clinical trial. Four additional investigator-led clinical studies are also underway for children with DIPG, for breast cancer which has metastasised to the brain, and also for any form of primary cancer which has metastasised to the brain.
Glioblastoma is the most common and most aggressive form of brain cancer. Despite all efforts, there have been few significant advances in treatment over the last decade, and the prognosis remains poor. The five-year survival rate is around 3%, compared with approximately 89% for patients with breast cancer.
It is estimated that approximately 2 out of every 100,000 people will develop GBM each year, and there are approximately 12,500 new cases per annum in the United States. The disease commonly begins with innocuous symptoms such as headache and nausea, but progresses rapidly if untreated.
Newly-diagnosed patients typically undergo surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, and are then treated with radiotherapy and a drug named temozolomide in order to delay recurrence. However, the vast majority of patients soon experience disease progression and survival, even in optimally-treated patients, averages approximately fifteen months.
The phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) signalling pathway is one of the central control mechanisms for cells in the human body. It is disordered in many types of cancer, and for some years researchers have experimented with drugs that inhibit this pathway as an approach to treating cancer. At present, one drug, idelalisib, is approved for use in certain kinds of leukaemia and lymphoma.
The PI3K pathway is disordered in many types of cancer, and has been well validated in clinical trials as a target for new treatments.
The PI3K pathway appears to be disordered in more than 85% of cases of glioblastoma, and so this appears to be a high-potential target for new glioblastoma therapies.
Paxalisib is a potent inhibitor of the PI3K pathway, and has been shown to have an anti-tumour effect in animal models of glioblastoma. Paxalisib is distinguished by its ability to cross the so-called blood-brain barrier, which prevents many drugs from fully affecting brain tissue.
In a phase I clinical trial conducted by Genentech, paxalisib (as GDC-0084) was shown to have acceptable tolerability in a group of patients with advanced brain tumours, including a majority of patients with glioblastoma. Paxalisib also showed an ability to reduce tumour size in some patients, and demonstrated a reduction in the activity of some tumours using an experimental imaging technology known as FDG-PET. These data were presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting in June 2016.
In addition to our in-house clinical program, paxalisib is also involved in four additional clinical trials which are sponsored by and performed at world-leading reserch hospitals, by clinicians who are top experts in their field. These studies are also primarily funded by sources external to Kazia, so our own modest financial investment is amplified many times over by the bigger committments of these partners.
Each clinical trial is in a different patient group, and any one of them could define a path forward for the drug.
There are a number of upcoming milestones arising from our five clinical trials, with initial data or preliminary read outs anticipated over the coming months:
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