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Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: THLD), today announced that The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers, awarded a grant to Dr. Herb Hurwitz, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Duke Cancer Institute, to evaluate Threshold Pharmaceuticals’ hypoxia activated prodrug, TH-302. In the coming quarter, the Duke Cancer Institute expects to commence a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and preliminary activity of TH-302 in combination with pazopanib (Votrient
®) in various advanced solid tumors.
The award was one of seven grants for clinical trials with pazopanib that were supported through the NCCN Clinical Trials Network (CTN). These trials are being funded by a $2 million research grant to NCCN from GlaxoSmithKline to evaluate the effectiveness of pazopanib in the treatment of a variety of solid tumors. Investigators from NCCN Member Institutions, such as Dr. Hurwitz, were eligible to apply for the research funding.
“There is significant data from many groups that tumor hypoxia and tumor responses to hypoxia can result in more aggressive tumor biology and potentially mediate resistance to anti-VEGF therapy,” said Dr. Hurwitz. “Many VEGF inhibitors induce tumor hypoxia, at least transiently. The team at Threshold has shown that TH302 not only augments the anti-tumor effects of two different anti-VEGF inhibitors (sunitinib and sorafenib) in animal xenograft models, but that the added benefit was directly related to the amount of hypoxia induced by different doses of those drugs. Thus targeting the hypoxic compartment of the tumor may be highly complementary to targeting VEGF and may result in greater anti-tumor effects. This concept needs testing in patients. Our study is one of the first steps in that process; we will test whether the combination of pazopanib and TH302 is safe and whether there are suggestions of anti-tumor activity in patients with advanced cancer.”