Press release

Argon Pharma starts regulatory preclinical phase of an oral drug against pancreatic cancer
Oscar Peña (CSO) and director científico de Argon Pharma y Ramon Roca (CEO).©

Oncostane – which has been proven to be effective in vivo– is one of the first oral treatments against pancreatic cáncer that reaches regulatory preclinical phase trials with an action mechanism completely different to that of drugs that are administered to fight the disease, which would make it a ‘first in class’ drug. The drug is also a wide spectrum drug exhibiting antitumor activity for several indications(reprofiling).
The biotech Argon Pharma –located at the Parc Científic de Barcelona– has obtained a grant of 250,000 Euros from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, under the Innocash program for completion of regulatory preclinical trials of its drug Oncostane, an innovative oral therapy for pancreatic cancer.

This capital contribution is in addition to the 500,000 and 167,000 Euros that the company has raised in the last two years through the Neotec program of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the NEBT loan line from the ACC1Ó Agency of the Government of Catalonia, respectively. In total, and with other competitive grants, the biotech has raised more than a million Euros to bring to clinical prof-of-concept the drug candidate resulting from the research.

Currently, chemotherapy drugs that are administered as first-line treatment for pancreatic cancer are drugs that are administered in-hospital intravenously, which involves a high personal, economic and social cost, and, as with treatments that are administered as second-line, exhibit high toxicity and significant adverse effects in patients, since they interfere with DNA synthesis, or are inhibitors of growth factor receptors.

Oncostane, from Argon Pharma, besides being one of the first oral treatments for pancreatic cancer that reaches regulatory preclinical trials -has a mechanism of action completely different to that of reference antitumor drugs which would make it a 'first in class' drug. The action mechanism is based on focal adhesion, an action mechanism yet to be exploited for the discovery of drugs in cáncer indications. The inhibition of this mechanism involves the loss of cell adhesion and cell death associated with apoptosis (programmed cell death).

In addition, Oncostane is a broad-spectrum drug with antitumor activity for several indications, which opens the door to the development of new drugs for new cancer indications (reprofiling).

Pancreatic cancer is an orphan disease with a high mortality and a median survival of between 4 and 6 months of life. According to the Medtrack biomedical database, pancreatic cancer is the thirteenth in incidence (12.8 cases per 100,000) and the eighth in terms of mortality in the world ranking. It is also the fourth leading cause of death between both sexes accounting for 6% of all cancer deaths. According to the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), the estimated incidence in Europe is of 78,000 new cases compared with the 32,000 cases in the United States. In Spain 2,400 men and 2,000 women die each year from this disease.

Despite being an orphan disease, pancreatic cancer is among the seven largest markets and it is expected to remain in this position. According to Medtrack, it is estimated that in 2014 first and second line drugs for this type of cancer will reach 1,400 million Euros in 2014. In some markets, like the U.S. and Japan, this disease has reached alarming levels and has become a priority to find treatments to fight it effectively.

“Due to the disappointing results that have been obtained in recent years to find an effective treatment for this indication, there is a significant potential market for the introduction of our drug for which we have already demonstrated efficacy in vivo, both administering alone in monotherapy as well as in combination therapy. The encouraging results of our compound may represent part of the solution to this current need that is also enhanced by European, American and Japanese drug agencies which can be an opportunity for our strategic lines and our business model," says Dr. Ramon Roca, CEO of Argon Pharma.
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