(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Benitec Biopharma (ASX: BLT) has received significant pre-clinical data from a lung cancer program targeting the silencing of a gene associated with chemotherapy resistance in non-small cell lung cancer.
It is believed to be the first time that an intravenous injection of a ddRNAi silencing molecule has been shown to be able to reach a lung tumour and to provide high levels of efficacy within the tumour.
The data confirms that an intravenous injection of the silencing molecule Tribetarna„ is efficiently taken up by lung tumours and results in silencing of the target gene in those tumours.
This is likely to result in the reduction of tumour resistance to chemotherapy drugs, which is being confirmed in ongoing experiments.
The data is based on six control-treated mice and six Tribetarna„ treated mice with human lung tumours.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 80% of lung cancers.
The outlook for NSCLC patients is extremely bleak, as the cancer rapidly develops resistance to current chemotherapy drugs.
High expression of III-tubulin is associated with poor survival clinically, and drug resistance in a range of tumour types including lung, ovarian, breast, and gastric cancers.
Benitec Biopharma and the Children's Cancer Institute Australia at the University of New South Wales are collaborating on a project to use RNAi to silence III-tubulin in NSCLC with the aim of increasing the tumour's sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs.
Successful in vitro studies have demonstrated the potential of this approach in human lung cancer cells in the CCIA laboratory, and this is now showing promise in in vivo pre-clinical studies.
Importantly, being able to deliver potent gene silencing molecules specifically to the lung tumours paves the way for Benitec to accelerate this program towards the clinic.
Given the highly positive results of the program, Benitec has decided to exercise its option to take an exclusive licence from the University of New South Wales of the patent covering targeting of the gene beta III tubulin by RNAi to overcome chemotherapy resistance.
Benitec is well funded to advance towards clinical trials with A2.1 million at the end of the September 2012 quarter.