Firm has decided to focus remaining R&D on xenograft platform and drop other in-licensed compounds.

Champions Biotechnology exercised its option to license a late preclinical-stage liposomal nanoparticle formulation of irinotecan known as Irinophore C™ from Canada’s BC Cancer Agency, part of British Columbia’s Provincial Health Services Authority. The Baltimore-based firm will pay BC Cancer $85,000 to cover the option exercise fee and past patent costs incurred by BC Cancer. It has in addition decided to drop development of another three previously in-licensed candidates and will not pursue any other product in-licensing opportunities.

Irinophore C is expected to start in Phase I development as monotherapy against advanced solid tumors during the latter part of 2011, and Champions is investigating potential options for financing clinical development of the drug. The firm says studies using its preclinical xenograft technology Tumorgraft™ suggest Irinophore C is significantly more effective against a range of tumor types than the approved irinotecan drug Camptosar, and demonstrates additional safety benefits.

The newly licensed candidate will essentially represent the only product in Champions’ pipeline. The firm’s decision to drop the other potential anticancer compounds it had licensed is also based on Tumorgraft study findings. Instead, the firm will focus its remaining R&D resources on further developing its Tumorgraft technology platform and expanding its translational oncology solutions business which is exploiting the platform through partnerships and services.

Just a week ago Champions signed a technology collaboration agreement with Cephalon, through which it will conduct low passage Tumorgraft studies on two of Cephalon’s compounds to help evaluate their likely activity in future clinical settings.

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