An experimental drug being trialled for advanced tumours has passed phase one of its Australian trial, with the second phase set to test the drug's effectiveness against the most aggressive brain cancer—glioblastoma.
Starting in June 2021, the first phase involved patients with glioblastoma, as well as cervical, pancreatic, colon, gastrointestinal, and uterine cancers, with the aim of testing whether the drug Auceliciclib was safe at different dosages.
Prof. Shudong Wang from the University of South Australia (UniSA) told The Epoch Times via email on Monday that "the drug showed an excellent safety profile even in those who are in extremely poor health due to their previous multiple lines of treatment with chemotherapies, and who are at the latest stage of disease," adding that there were also some early signs of efficacy.
“Phase one usually takes up to two years if there are any safety concerns with a new drug, but we didn’t experience any issues with Auceliciclib, which is very encouraging,” she said in a UniSA release on Friday.
The second phase of the trial will combine Auceliciclib with the chemotherapy drug Temozolomide to treat glioblastoma patients, whose survival time is usually between 12 and 18 months after diagnosis.
“Despite surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, glioblastoma is an incurable cancer. One reason is due to late diagnosis where the tumour has already spread in a way that makes surgical removal very difficult,” Wang said.
Advantages of Auceliciclib Over Other DrugsWang explained that there are very few existing drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
"The brain does an excellent job of protecting its most vital organ from toxins and pathogens," she said. "The downside is that it keeps out vital medication."
Auceliciclib, however, has been shown in pre-clinical trials to successfully cross the blood-brain barrier, making it a suitable choice for brain cancer.
Another advantage over drugs currently in development is that Auceliciclib is more target specific, meaning it can reach cancer cells in the brain more effectively. In addition, it is less toxic.
Wang told The Epoch Times that Auceliciclib targets CDK4—a key enzyme protein that regulates the cell division cycle. This "stops cancer cell proliferation and growth", she said.
Should the drug prove successful in the clinical trial, it will also be a breakthrough for treating brain tumours metastasized from other cancers.
Along with the trial for the treatment of glioblastoma, a separate trial of Auceliciclib is in progress as a monotherapy for patients with a range of advanced cancers, including lung, breast, colorectal, and ovarian.