Pharmaxis welcomes government research grants for new study collaborations

Pharmaxis (ASX:PXS) says it welcomes new drug development grants from the federal government awarding NHMRC funding to two research teams to advance work they are conducting with two of the company’s discoveries.

Associate Professor Thomas Cox from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has been awarded an $827,500 NHMRC Development Grant to lead a multidisciplinary team investigating PXS‐5505 as a promising new treatment approach for pancreatic cancer.

Collaborating with Pharmaxis, the Garvan‐led team will conduct further preclinical studies of the experimental treatment in combination with chemotherapy.

As part of this work, the team will also aim to validate biomarkers they previously identified as a potential tool to guide which patients are most likely to benefit from the therapeutic approach and to monitor treatment response in real-time.

PXS‐5505 is already being separately studied by Pharmaxis in a phase 2 clinical trial of the bone cancer myelofibrosis with an IND also granted to explore its potential in liver cancer.

Associate Professor Cox said, “Treatment resistance in pancreatic cancer is partially driven by fibrosis – a process by which scar tissue builds up throughout and around the tumour tissue. This scar tissue can prevent treatments from reaching their tumour target and also stimulate cancer growth and spread. Tumours need specific enzymes called lysyl oxidases to build the main constituent of this damaging scar tissue.

“Our preclinical studies in experimental models have revealed that targeting lysyl oxidases can reduce fibrosis and improve the efficiency of chemotherapy. Further, they have pointed us to an experimental therapy that we will now help progress to clinical trials.”

Professor Fiona Wood and Associate Professor Mark Fear, from UWA’s Burn Injury Research Unit, together with Dr Mehra Haghi, University of Technology Sydney, and Pharmaxis have been awarded $590,264 to examine the company’s serine protease inhibitor as a potential new treatment for tissue repair and inflammatory skin disease.

Slow tissue repair, excessive scarring and many skin diseases are driven by the body’s inappropriate or excessive immune response to an injury or environmental trigger. A key enzyme class that cause this excessive response are serine proteases which will be targeted in the research work.

Associate Professor Fear said, “It is great to be working with Pharmaxis on a new compound and drug target to modify tissue repair and inflammatory skin disease. As our previous collaboration with the anti‐fibrotic drug PXS‐6302 now moves into clinical trials, this new grant gives us an opportunity to target a new pathway with the potential to improve the healing trajectory for patients, reducing time in hospital and improving their outcomes.”

Commenting on the two grants, Pharamxis CEO Gary Phillips said, “We are delighted that the long term scientific collaborations we have with the Garvan, UTS and UWA have been recognised in an extremely competitive government grant process that historically only awards 10% of submissions. Together, our work aims to support commercialisation of new treatment approaches for pancreatic cancer and various skin diseases, which we hope will deliver significant benefits for patients.”

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