| LONDON, Sept 16
LONDON, Sept 16 Patients with inoperable
pancreatic cancer live substantially longer when given
MediGene's MDGGn.DE experimental drug EndoTAG-1 on top of
standard chemotherapy, according to clinical trial results.
EndoTAG-1, the German biotech company's most important
pipeline product, has already elicited interest from several
large pharmaceutical companies keen to strike a partnership
Results of a mid-stage Phase II trial presented on Tuesday
showed patients given the new drug in combination with the older
treatment gemcitabine survived up to 13.6 months compared with
an average 7.2 months for those on gemcitabine alone.
"These results are the best I have ever seen in palliative
treatment in pancreatic cancer," Matthias Loehr from Sweden's
Karolinska Institute told the annual meeting of the European
Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Stockholm.
"The results are really excellent and a Phase III study is
in the making," he added.
Phase III is the final stage of testing before a new drug is
submitted to regulators for approval.
MediGene's drug -- a combination of fat molecules and
another cancer drug called paclitaxel -- is designed to destroy
new blood vessels that grow around tumours. It does this in a
different way to products like Genentech DNA.N and Roche's
EndoTAG-1 consists of charged particles that bind
preferentially to blood vessel cells, after which paclitaxel is
released and directly stops blood vessel growth. Paclitaxel,
when given conventionally, is not very effective in pancreatic
Pancreatic cancer patients typically have a poor prognosis
because the cancer usually causes no symptoms early on. As a
result, it is often advanced by the time it is diagnosed.
MediGene believes EndoTAG-1 has the potential to achieve
annual sales of more than 1 billion euros ($1.40 billion) a
year, if it progresses successfully in clinical development for
pancreatic and other types of cancer.
Results of a clinical trial testing the medicine in breast
cancer are expected in 2009.
The promising results in pancreatic cancer should help
MediGene in negotiations with larger companies interested in
marketing the medicines.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that
Pfizer (PFE.N), Eli Lilly (LLY.N) and Roche ROG.VX had all
expressed interest in licensing the drug. Another source said
Pfizer was also considering a full takeover of MediGene.
The companies involved declined to comment.
(Editing by Sue Thomas)