Oncology-focused specialty pharmaceutical company Midatech Pharma negotiated a global license agreement with Novartis to develop the latter’s pan-histone deacetylase (pan-HDAC) inhibitor panobinostat for treating the childhood brain cancer diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and potentially for treating glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). No financial details have been disclosed.

Panobinostat (tradenamed Farydak®) was approved in the EU and U.S. in 2015 for use in combination therapy with bortezomib and dexamethasone for treating relapsed multiple myeloma in previously treated adult patients. Midatech says tests in preclinical models indicate that panobinostat is highly potent against DIPG tumor cell lines; in one study, it was the most effective of more than 80 anticancer agents assessed.

U.K.-based Midatech is separately developing its in-house candidate MTX110 for treating DIPG. The drug is delivered directly into the tumor using a convection-enhanced delivery approach, which Midatech says minimizes systemic toxicity and peripheral side effects. Clinical studies with MTX110 are projected to start later this year, and five patients in the U.S. and U.K. have already been treated using MTX110 through a compassionate use program.

Commenting on the deal with Novartis for panobinostat, Jim Phillips, M.D., CEO of Midatech Pharma, said, “In line with our strategy to focus on oncology and expand our product mix, we are pleased that Novartis recognizes our unique capability to use their product panobinostat alongside our technology to treat orphan cancers. We look forward to driving it through development for treatment of DIPG and making a real difference to the children suffering from this devastating and terminal disease.”

Midatech is developing a portfolio of candidates for orphan oncology indications, based on its gold nanoparticle (GNP) drug conjugate delivery system and Q-Sphera® polymer microsphere sustained release platform. Last month, the firm reported selecting a GNP-based candidate to progress into IND-enabling studies for the potential treatment of GBM.

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