Diagnostic will identify patients most likely to benefit from therapy with doxorubicin-peptide conjugate.

Aeterna Zentaris is tapping Roche’s Ventana Medical Systems business to develop a companion diagnostic for use alongside its own doxorubicin LHRH (luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone)-targeted conjugate compound, AEZS-108 (zoptarelin doxorubicin). The Phase II-stage candidate specifically targets LHRH receptors and could be most effective in treating patients with LHRH receptor-positive cancers.

The Ventana-develoepd diagnostic will allow evaluation of LHRH receptor expression in patients with cancers including endometrial, ovarian, breast, bladder, prostate and pancreas as an aid to selecting patients most likely to benefit from AEZS-108 therapy.

“AEZS-108 is a promising anticancer compound as demonstrated by the postivie final Phase II results in LHRH-receptor expression endometrial and ovarian cancer,” comments Juergen Engel, Ph.D., Aeterna Zentaris president and CEO. “The Ventana companion diagnostic tool will allow us to develop improved methods for the selection of patients to be treated with AEZS-108, in order to enhance the efficiency of our clinical trials and help us with the future successful development of AEZS-108 in a number of different LHRH-expression cancers.”

AEZS-108 is a targeted cytotoxic peptide conjugate comprising a synthetic peptide carrier linked to the cytotoxic agent doxorubicin. The drug has been designed so that it specifically binds to and is selectively taken up by LHRH receptor-positive tumors. Aeterna Zentaris claims the drug is the first in clinical development to target the cytotoxic activity of doxorubicin specifically to LHRH-receptor expressing tumors.

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