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Research on photodynamic prostate cancer drug subject of agreement


Edmonton, AB December 29, 2003 Warren Jackson, president and CEO of pharmaceutical company Altachem Pharma says that Altachem’s wholly owned subsidiary SonoLight Pharmaceuticals has reached a milestone in its development of HB Injectible (new code name ACPSL-017) for treating prostate cancer. SonoLight has entered into an agreement with Dr Ronald B Moore, the Alberta Cancer Board and the Cross Cancer Institute to complete preclinical studies on SonoLight’s ACPSL-017 to advance into phase I human clinical trials.

The principle of the company’s photodynamic therapy (PDT) is as follows: ACPSL-017 photosensitizing drug is injected into a patient, the drug accumulates at the cancer (tumor), which is then activated by a photodynamic light source to effectively kill the cancer cells and tumor in the specific area.

Principal investigator Dr Ron Moore, MD, PhD, FRCSC, is an AHFMR scholar and a urological surgeon at the Cross Cancer Institute and the University of Alberta Hospital. His lab is involved in translational research for the application of PDT for prostate and bladder cancer. He brings animal tumor model systems, as well as the clinical expertise and material. He will be responsible for overall coordination of the project including surgical interventions.

“I am pleased to be working with Altachem Pharma on the further development of ACPSL-017 which originated at the University of Alberta," says Dr Moore. "Our laboratory in collaboration with Dr Bill Lown carried out the initial characterization studies of the parent compounds. ACPSL-017 is a further improvement on these compounds. With this drug and others like it, we have pioneered the development of interstitial PDT for prostate cancer. Interstitial PDT is a minimally invasive treatment for prostate cancer. This treatment strategy can be likened to cryotherapy, but has the advantage of being more selective and therefore has less potential for complications.”

“This agreement is expected to exert a profound impact on the success of bringing our photodynamic therapy (PDT) drug candidate ACPSL-017 to clinical trials,” says Dr Selvaraj Naicker, vice president of drug development.

Upon the success of this development agreement, the principal investigator and Alberta Cancer Board have the first right of refusal to move ACPSL-017 into phase I human clinical trials for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting males. Approximately 30% of men over the age of 50 years will harbour prostate cancer. Currently one in ten North American males can expect to be afflicted by prostate cancer and 3% of men will die of this disease in their lifetime. Prostate cancer is unique in that it is slow growing and not exceptionally sensitive to DNA targeted radiotherapy or chemotherapy. As a result, photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising therapy for localized prostate cancer. The market for prostate cancer in the United States alone is approximately US$4.6 billion.

The Alberta Cancer Board is mandated by the government of Alberta under the Cancer Programs Act to coordinate all cancer research, prevention and treatment programs in the province of Alberta. Its services include cancer prevention and screening, public education, diagnosis and treatment, and basic and applied research.