Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Valentis drug VLTS 934 disappoints in phase 2b trial...New molecular target identified for the treatment of ovarian cancer

Todays Headlines from across the DailyUpdates network
  • Breaking News (from DailyUpdates-Cardiovascular Disease): Valentis drug VLTS 934 disappoints in phase 2b trial: In contrast to coronary and cerebral artery disease, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) remains an under-appreciated condition that despite being serious and extremely prevalent is rarely diagnosed and even less frequently treated. The prevalence of PAD has usually been cited as 8-12 million people in the US however total numbers could be as high as 20 million (see our feature Peripheral arterial disease (PAD): prevalence, current treatments & new technologies). Our feature estimates that 25% of patients with PAD require claudication agents; 50% would benefit from anti-hypertensives; 90-100% should receive lipid lowering agents and all patients are suitable for antiplatelet therapy. These figures differ remarkably from the numbers of patients that receive treatment. Not only does PAD represent a major unmet clinical problem but its under-treatment translates to a total of $35 billion in unrealized annual US sales of cardiovascular therapeutics. Needless to say, given the unmet potential of PAD therapeutics the value of companies with a stake in this market stands to increase considerably. Equally however, the risks of being in the PAD arena are considerable as demonstrated today in Valentis’ press release announcing the failure of VLTS 934. This agent appears to have a direct effect of repairing compromised cell membranes, decreasing levels of specific inflammatory mediators and improving cell function, thus making it applicable as a treatment of conditions associated with ischemia. Valentis recently completed a Phase IIa clinical trial of VLTS in patients with PAD in which VLTS 934 demonstrated favorable activity. Unfortunately, Valentis announced yesterday that in a Phase IIb trial VLTS 934 failed to meet any of its end points. The company is currently unable to explain the difference in performance of the drug between the two trials and Valentis now appears to be moving into a period of major change. [Source:Valentis]
  • Featured Journal Article (from DailyUpdates-Oncology): New molecular target identified for the treatment of ovarian cancer: Despite being the most common cause of death from gynecological tumors, ovarian cancer has not traditionally attracted the same level of R&D interest as other female cancers. Nevertheless, nearly 60,000 cases of ovarian cancer being diagnosed in the seven major markets each year is, by no means, small and therefore, it remains an important secondary indication for existing and pipeline drugs. Carboplatin plus paclitaxel remains firmly established as the treatment of choice not only in first line but also in second line given the significant proportion of patients retaining platinum sensitivity. Opinion leaders interviewed for our recent feature Ovarian Cancer-Growing importance as secondary indication for targeted therapies identified VEGF inhibitors as promising for ovarian cancer. In particular, Genentech/Roche's Avastin is considered to have the most potential, so much so that it is believed to be used significantly off-label despite the halting of a Phase II trial due to safety concerns. There are nine drugs in Phase II development for ovarian cancer including a number of cytotoxic and molecular-targeted therapies. Today’s featured research focuses on much earlier stage candidates, the pygopus proteins. These proteins are critical elements of the canonical Wnt/beta-catenin transcriptional complex and here we highlight research demonstrating that pygopus2 is overexpressed in 82% of epithelial ovarian cancer tumors. Cell line studies demonstrated that antisense neutralization of this protein conferred significant anticancer activity suggesting that pygopus2 may represent a molecular target for future ovarian cancer therapeutics [Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Apr 1;12(7 Pt 1):2216-23]


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