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  • Melbourne company Starpharma believes it holds a lock-and-key method to combatting colon cancer which affects over one million people a year
  • Combining existing drug Irinotecan with its ‘Dendrimer Drug Delivery’ template of dosage, the company has already seen clinical success in suppressing growth of colon cancer in an American trial in May
  • Today, the company has secured the go-ahead to commencing a phase 1 and 2 trial across several industry leading cancer centres in the UK
  • The trial will utilise roughly 45 adult patients and is expected to add further trials sites across the UK and Australia down the track

Melbourne-based company Starpharma will begin testing UK patients with a unique drug delivery method to combat cancer growth.

Known as DEP, or Dendrimer Drug Delivery, the template is a unique system of using branched molecules to increase efficiency in treating the body with the needed drugs.

Necessary approvals granted to the company today will allow it to begin the clinical testing at multiple leading UK cancer centres. This phase 1 and 2 set of clinical trials will accelerate the product to the market pending on success.

Across centres The Christie, The Marsden and Newcastle Freeman Hospital, Starpharma will test tumour-fighting efficiency of its drug ‘DEP irinotecan’ while seeking an appropriate dosage level for the treatment.

Irinotecan is an already existing commonly used drug to fight colon cancer. Despite several existing side-effect warnings, Irinotecan has previously achieved annual sales of US$1.1 billion – exhibiting a market interest.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) affects over one million people per year, standing large at the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths around the world.

Starpharma believes a combination of Irinotecan with its DEP template can help suppress cancerous tumour growth present in CRC.

Approximately 45 patients will be included in the trial that is expected to add additional testing sites in the UK and Australia as well.

“We are delighted to be advancing DEP irinotecan into the clinic,” Starpharma CEO Dr Jackie Fairley said.

“This is the third internal DEP product developed using Starpharma’s delivery platform to commence human trials,”

In May, the company reported positive results using the drug combination in combatting colon cancer for an American clinical trial.

The combination group of the DEP product with irinotecan heavily outclassed one other group using just a low dose-form of DEP with Irinotecan and a third group using DEP with drug ‘Erbitux’.

“There are currently limited options available for colorectal cancer patients who do not respond to conventional therapy, and clinicians are keen to get this trial underway,” Dr Jackie added.

“The growing DEP clinical portfolio illustrates the optionality and commercial value created by Starpharma’s DEP platform,”

After breaking today’s news to shareholders, shares in Starpharma gained 5.69 per cent.

Shares in SPL are trading for $1.30 apiece in a market cap valued at $457.2 million.

SPL by the numbers
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