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Convert secures €13.6m grant to develop targeted chemo for oxygen-deprived tumours

Published on 09/03/18 at 11:24am

Belgium’s Convert Pharmaceuticals has secured a €13.6 million grant for initial development efforts on a new targeted chemotherapy drug which could provide benefit in oxygen-deprived cancer cells which older methods have difficulty in treating.

CP-506 is a Hypoxia-Activated Prodrug (HAP) designed to leverage tumour hypoxia, a result of oxygen deprivation in cancer which can lead to aggressive growth and resistance to treatment. The drug has already demonstrated efficacy in this regard in proof-of-concept in vitro and in vivo studies, and promises greater activity, specificity and safety compared to older treatments.

The team at Convert will also be developing advanced biomarkers to identify patient populations that stand to benefit most from the drug’s use.

CP-506 was developed over the course of three years by a team led by Associate Professors Jeff Smaill and Adam Patterson of the University of Auckland’s Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC) in New Zealand.

“These prodrugs are inactive by themselves, but transform into potent anti-cancer agents when entering tumours. Many tumours contain areas that are insufficiently oxygenated. These areas are hard to treat with radio-, chemo- and immunotherapies,” explained Associate Professor Patterson. “However, CP-506 becomes active in these areas and eradicates these treatment resistant areas very efficiently.”

Associate Professor Smaill added: “We are delighted that Convert recognised the quality of the work done by our very talented team of scientists in New Zealand and the promise of CP-506. We are excited to work together to realise our goal of delivering novel medicines that address urgent clinical problems.”

The secured grant includes equity and non-dilutive funding provided by a range of investors including Droia Oncology Ventures, Meusinvest and Spinventure, as well as support from the European Eurostars programme.

Matt Fellows

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