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A made-in-BC prostate cancer drug enters clinical trials

A prostate cancer drug developed by researchers at the BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia is entering human clinical trials.
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​​Dr. Marianne Sadar in her laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency.

The drug, EPI-506, was designed by Dr. Marianne Sadar, distinguished scientist at the BC Cancer Agency, and Dr. Raymond Andersen, a professor in the department of chemistry at UBC. EPI-506 is designed to target and shut down metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer (m-CRPC) when other treatments have failed.

A Phase I multi-centre clinical trial, sponsored by ESSA Pharma Inc., opened Wednesday, December 2, at the BC Cancer Agency and other sites in the United States. It will determine the drug’s safety, tolerability and anti-tumour activity. Dr. Kim Chi, a co-Principal Investigator for North America and oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency, will run the Canadian trial.

The launch of the clinical trial was announced to the public with a press conference in the Diamond lecture theatre at the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre. The conference was attended by many media outlets including the Vancouver Sun, CBC​Canadian Press, CKNW​, News1130 and Global​.

The event included remarks from BC Cancer Agency President, Dr. Malcolm Moore, and BC Cancer Foundation President, Lou Del Gobbo. Dr. Moore highlighted this milestone as a one-in-1,000 event since only one out of 1,000 promising drug candidates ever make it to this stage of human trials. 

Also in attendance were executives from ESSA Pharma Inc., which will be developing the drug, and several members of the Country Meadows Senior Men’s Golf Club, who have given over $1 million in donations to the BC Cancer Foundation specifically for Dr. Sadar’s research. 

“[This research] is world leading and Canadian trials are starting. I think it says a lot about the BC Cancer Agency,” said B.C. Minister of Health, Terry Lake, in a radio interview with CHNL Kamloops.
 
Over a decade in the making, EPI-506 is a variant of a compound found in a type of marine sponge. It is the first to target the “back end” of the androgen receptor protein, called the N-terminal domain. The androgen receptor drives most prostate cancer cells and makes them sensitive to androgen hormones, such as testosterone.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among Canadian and American men. It is estimated that more than 3,700 men in British Columbia will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. Metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer (m-CRPC) is the lethal form of the disease, and is resistant to most treatments.

Dr. Sadar’s work was supported by $2.6 million from the BC Cancer Foundation, as well as the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Andersen’s research was supported by the Canadian Cancer Society. 

More information about the clinical trial can be found here. If you are a prostate cancer patient interested in enrolling in the clinical trial, please discuss your eligibility with your oncologist. 
Clinical trials; prostate; Vancouver Centre
Research
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