SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Dec. 19, 2008 The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Scottsdale Healthcare and Mayo Clinic are testing a new drug that could help cancer patients by stimulating the immune system.
Clinical trials of the drug VTX-2337 are being conducted at TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, a partnership of Phoenix-based TGen and Scottsdale-based Scottsdale Healthcare Corp., and at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Dr. Ramesh Ramanathan, Medical Director of TGen Clincal Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, said the new drug appears promising.
"VTX-2337 is a new, novel, small molecule aimed at stimulating the immune cells in the blood, lymph nodes, and in and around the tumor. It represents an exciting new class of agents for cancer therapy with good preclinical evidence of activity,'' Dr. Ramanathan said.
The Phase I trial, a yearlong first-in-humans test, will study the drug's safety. If successful, a Phase II trial will test the drug's effectiveness on tumors.
A weakened immune system is often the result of advanced cancer. The hope is that this new drug will actually help enable the immune system to slow down the growth of tumors, and perhaps even shrink them, Dr. Ramanathan said.
VTX-2337 is the first drug of its kind developed by San Diego-based VentiRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. The biopharmaceutical company is focused on the development of new Toll-Like Receptor 8 (TLR8) agonists, which are small molecules that prompt a response in the body's immune system. The drugs are intended to treat cancer, respiratory and autoimmune diseases.
"VentiRx is very excited to be working with TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare and Mayo Clinic on this important and novel program,'' said Michael Kamdar, Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer at VentiRx. "Entering Phase I clinical trials represents a significant milestone for VentiRx and our TLR efforts in that we have rap
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The Translational Genomics Research Institute