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Exopharm (ASX:EX1) reveals promising Plexaris anti-cancer results
  • Regenerative medicine company Exopharm (EX1) has revealed some promising results for a new type of anti-cancer treatment
  • The company said based on in vitro testing of its new Plexodox product, more cancer cells were killed than conventional chemo treatment
  • Plexodox combines the doxorubicin chemotherapy drug the Exopharm's Plexaris technology
  • The product is designed to kills cancer cells as effectively as doxorubicin, but without severe side-effects
  • The treatment is based on Exopharm's exosome technology
  • Shares in Exopharm are trading almost 32 per cent today, currently worth 29 cents each

Regenerative medicine specialist Exopharm (EX1) has revealed some promising results from in vitro testing of a new type of anti-cancer treatment.

The company combined a typical lung cancer treatment drug called doxorubicin with its Plexaris exosome product to create a new treatment, dubbed Plexodox.

The company said testing showed Plexodox kills more cancer cells than a similar dosage of doxorubicin by itself.

While doxorubicin is widely used in chemotherapy, the drug can cause some severe adverse effects for patients, including a reduction in bone marrow activity, damage to heart muscles, and alopecia.

As such, dose levels of the drug are often limited by a patient's adverse response.

However, Exopharm revealed today that Plexodox has the ability to kill the same amount of lung cancer cells through a much smaller dose. This increases what's known as the "therapeutic window" for the chemotherapy treatment: the amount of time the drug is safe to use in a patient.

The key to increasing the efficacy of the drug is Exopharm's exosome-based technology.

What is an exosome?

Simply put, exosomes are small fluid-filled sacs, also referred to as extracellular vesicles (EVs), naturally created in the body. According to Exopharm, these little creations have the important job of delivering therapeutics "cargoes" from cell to cell to help the body repair and regenerate.

The human body naturally has many exosomes travelling around it when we are young, but our exosome count declines with age.

Exopharm's goal is to use exosomes to deliver targeted drugs to cells in need. Using this method with the exosomes created by stem sales has the potential to deliver the same benefit as stem cell therapy but without the associated risks.

Plexaris, on which Plexodox is based, is an exosome-based treatment.

Anti-cancer effects

The efficacy of Plexaris-based treatment comes from the way the product is derived from platelets to purposely target damaged cells.

The way Exopharm's Head of Innovation, Dr Andrew Coley, puts it, cancer tumours are often referred to as internal wounds that never heal.

"Platelets are drawn to wound sites, so there is good reason to believe that Plexodox will preferentially deliver doxorubicin to tumours,” Dr Andrew said.

Exopharm Chief Commerical Officer Dr Chris Baldwin said Plexodox combines two different treatments into one.

"Cancer patients are commonly transfused with platelets to counteract side-effects from chemotherapy already, so we know that allogeneic platelets are not only safe, but therapeutic," Dr Chris explained.

"Our approach is, rather than treat the patient for side effects, let’s use platelet EVs to get doxorubicin where it belongs: inside cancer cells," he said.

Of course, today's results are based on in vitro testing — or testing done in a test tube, Petri dish, or somewhere outside of a living organism. This means the anti-cancer potential of the product is still in early stages of development.

Plexaris, however, is already being tested in humans through a Phase I trial for wound healing.

Show me the money

According to Exopharm, Doxorubin sales exceed $1 billion across the globe every year.

Thus, should the company find a way to deliver this treatment to humans while negating the adverse effects, there is a major market available for such a product.

As it stands, shareholders seem pleased with the early potential of the product.

Shares in Exopharm have increased in value by a hefty 31.82 per cent today, currently trading for 29 cents each in a $27.69 million market cap.


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