Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

CDRD Spin-Off Sitka Biopharma Advances Bladder Cancer Therapy Closer to the Clinic



New Bladder Cancer Therapy to Start Clinical Trials

June 26, 2017 – Vancouver, BC and London, UK: An experimental treatment for bladder cancer will move into an early phase clinical trial under an agreement signed today between Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the charity’s commercial arm, and Canadian biotechnology company Sitka Biopharma Inc., a spin-off of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) and the University of British Columbia (UBC), financed by Quark Venture.

The new treatment called STK-01 is being developed to improve delivery of chemotherapy for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC), in patients whose tumour has not yet penetrated into the muscle layer of the bladder wall.

Standard treatment for NMIBC involves removal of the tumour followed by intravesical therapies (delivered by catheter directly into the bladder) to eliminate residual disease and prevent recurrence and progression. STK-01 uses a unique nanoparticle polymer technology to deliver the chemotherapy drug docetaxel.

Docetaxel is an effective chemotherapy drug but it can be difficult to deliver enough of the drug to the bladder to treat the cancer. STK-01 may overcome this resulting in the tumour being exposed to much higher levels of the drug. In preclinical studies STK-01 has been shown to greatly enhance docetaxel penetration and retention in the bladder wall, and is extremely effective at eliminating tumours in mouse models.

Under the agreement, Cancer Research UK and Sitka will share the cost of the development and production of STK-01 for the clinic. Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development (CDD) will then fund and manage a Phase I clinical trial of STK-01 in bladder cancer patients, to evaluate drug safety, toxicity, drug delivery and how it compares with giving docetaxel alone.

The trial will take place across the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMC) network, a nationwide initiative funded by Cancer Research UK and the UK’s four Health Departments.

Dr Michael Parr, Sitka Biopharma’s President and Chief Scientific Officer, said: “This agreement is very significant for Sitka as it will validate our preclinical therapy and take another step closer to providing an effective treatment for bladder cancer patients. Working with Cancer Research UK, CRT and CDD – world leaders in the development of cancer treatments – has helped us reach a significant value-creation point for Sitka, taking it from a pre-clinical to clinical stage company. Results of this work will be applied to new therapeutic technologies in development for other forms of cancer, such as ovarian cancer, and provide effective treatments for even more patients.”

Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s director of drug development, said: “More than 5,000 people die from bladder cancer each year in the UK and we urgently need to find new and better ways to treat patients. We hope this experimental approach will improve survival for patients with invasive disease by increasing the amount of chemotherapy that can reach the tumour. Without our innovative CDP scheme it might have been years before this treatment reached patients so we‘re pleased to work with Sitka Biopharma to accelerate development of this promising technology.”

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For media enquiries contact Kathryn Ingham in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 5475 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059 or Julia White, on behalf of Sitka Biopharma at 604-827-1226.

Notes to editors

About Sitka Biopharma Inc.
Sitka Biopharma is a Canadian biotechnology company focused on developing its breakthrough nanoparticle platform technology to increase absorption of drugs in difficult-to-penetrate tissues. Initially targeting oncology indications, Sitka is developing its lead candidate (STK-01) to address the absorption challenge of intravesical chemotherapy for bladder cancer, and later intraperitoneal delivery for ovarian cancer. Sitka is a spin-off company of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), and the University of British Columbia (UBC). For more information, visit www.sitkabiopharma.com.

About Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Development Partnerships
CDP is a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development (CDD) and Cancer Research Technology that aims to develop promising anti-cancer agents from companies that are not able to take them through early phase clinical trials themselves. Under the scheme, Cancer Research UK sponsors and funds early clinical development, while companies retain all underlying rights to their programmes. At the end of the study, companies can decide if they wish to develop the drug further based on the clinical trial results. If they choose not to, rights are given to Cancer Research Technology to secure an alternative partner and ensure the drug has every possible chance of reaching patients, with a share of future income returned to the company. Further information: www.cancertechnology.co.uk/clinical-development

About Cancer Research Technology
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Further information about CRT can be found at www.cancertechnology.com.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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