Clinical-stage Davanat targets Galectin receptors on cancer cells, negating their ability to evade the immune system.

The Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research has entered an agreement to test Pro-Pharmaceuticals’ clinical-stage anticancer agent, Davanat, for its ability to stop Galectin-3 from blocking the immune system’s action on cancer cells. Davanat is a carbohydrate polymer that targets Galectin receptors that are overexpressed on cancer cells.

Current research indicates that Galectins affect cell development and play important roles in cancer, including tumor cell survival, angiogenesis, tumor metastasis, and the ability of the cancer cell to evade the immune system. Specifically, peer reviewed studies have demonstrated that Galectin-1 and Galectin-3 induce apoptosis in T cells. Dr. Pierre van der Bruggen’s team at the Ludwig Institute have found that blocking the action of Galectin-3 improves the efficacy of T cells.

“Our experimental observations on cultured cells suggest that treatment of cancer patients with Davanat could correct T-cell function and that combining Davant with an anticancer vaccine could induce a more efficient and long-lasting antitumoral immune response,” according to Dr. van der Bruggen.

Data from a Phase II trial in end-stage colorectal cancer patients showed that Davanat in combination with 5-FU extended median survival to 6.7 months with reduced side effects, as compared to 4.6 months for standard of care. Davanat is also being evaluated in another Phase II study along with 5-FU as a treatment for bile duct and gall bladder cancers.

“We are encouraged by the results that Davanat demonstrated in our clinical trials in combination with chemotherapies and biologics,” says Theodore Zucconi, Ph.D., CEO, Pro-Pharmaceuticals. “We plan to continue to validate our initial findings and to expand the use of Davanat to other cancer treatments and types of cancer. We believe our expertise in developing compounds that target Galectin receptors offers opportunities for the advanced treatment of cancer, fibrosis, and inflammatory diseases.”

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