Marillion Pharmaceuticals licenses Bracco Imaging's novel targeted prostate and breast cancer treatments

24 November 2008

Marillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Bracco Imaging S.p.A., one of the world’s leading companies in the diagnostic imaging business and part of the Bracco Group, announced today that the two companies have entered into a license agreement granting Marillion exclusive worldwide rights to complete clinical development and to commercialize Bracco’s 177Lu-AMBA for the treatment of hormone-resistant prostate and advanced (metastatic) breast cancers.

“177Lu-AMBA is a targeted radiotherapeutic that utilizes an innovative receptor-based technology. In contrast to traditional modes of treatment for advanced cancers, this unique targeting capability means that 177Lu-AMBA is able to home in on tumour cells and spare normal tissues.

"In addition, up to 70% of patients with prostate cancer have bone metastases which cause unrelenting pain. Early clinical trials have shown that these metastases may also be effectively targeted by 177Lu-AMBA”, commented Dr. Zahed Subhan, Chief Executive Officer, Marillion Pharmaceuticals.

“An effective targeted radiotherapeutic for the treatment of advanced prostate and breast cancers would potentially create a new billion dollar drug class. There are currently only marginally useful treatments for the later stages of these pathologies,” added Dr. Subhan.

“We believe Marillion is a strong partner for 177Lu-AMBA based on the company’s extensive background and focus on oncology drug development,” commented Michael Tweedle, Ph.D., President and CEO, Bracco Research USA Inc., one of the three proprietary research centers of the Group, based in Princeton, New Jersey.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), prostate and breast cancers affect more than 4 million patients via new diagnoses each year. Prostate cancer is a chronic disease occurring in men over 50 years old.

The cancer evolves in two phases. Initially, most prostate cancers depend on male hormones for their sustained growth and anti-hormonal therapies can initially be effective in stabilizing the cancer.

Inevitably however, tumour progression resumes despite anti-hormonal treatment. The prognosis for these hormone-refractory prostate cancer patients is poor. Their treatment option is presently limited to chemotherapy as the accepted standard of care. The median survival expectancy for these patients does not exceed 19 months.

More than 2 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of the disease and occurs when the cancer spreads to distant organs in the body. Treatment of metastatic breast cancer generally focuses on relieving symptoms and extending a woman’s lifetime.

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