Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE MKT: RNN), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, announced today that it has signed an exclusive license agreement with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) for a novel drug delivery platform, Nano-Polymer-Drug Conjugate Systems (NPDCS). This technology targets the delivery of currently marketed chemotherapeutic agents directly into cancerous tumors. The direct delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs into the tumors has been shown to result in increased efficacy and reduced toxicity.
The NPDCS platform combines existing chemotherapeutic agents with a proprietary polymer carrier that contains a signaling moiety which directs the drug into the tumor. This approach minimizes the levels of freely circulating anti-cancer agents in the body, which can dramatically reduce potential adverse events, and maximizes anti-tumor activity by accumulating in the cancer tumor. NPDCS is a broad platform that has the potential to generate multiple therapeutic candidates going forward.
Rexahn’s first drug candidate developed utilizing this novel platform is RX-21101, a polymer conjugated form of docetaxel, a common chemotherapy agent. In preclinical studies, RX-21101 demonstrated increased efficacy and reduced toxicity, as compared to intravenously administered free docetaxel. Docetaxel is now generic but is marketed worldwide under the trade name Taxotere® and has reported annual sales of $3.1 billion for the treatment of breast, ovarian, prostate, and non-small cell lung cancer. Despite its commercial success, docetaxel is toxic to all dividing cells in the body and is associated with a high incidence of adverse events including anemia, infection, fever, neutropenia, neuropathy, asthenia, edema, alopecia, nausea and vomiting. These adverse events are the result of high concentrations of free docetaxel in the blood. By minimizing the circulating concentration of free docetaxel in the blood and maximizing the concentration in the cancer tumor, RX-21101 may increase anti-tumor activity and a lower incidence of adverse events.
Dr. Hamid Ghandehari, Professor, Departments of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Bioengineering, University of Utah and co-developer of the NPDCS technology commented, “The NPDCS platform represents a significant advancement in targeted delivery of chemotherapeutic agents directly to cancer tumors. Other approaches have not been able to combine the controlled, targeted release of existing chemotherapeutic directly to the cancerous tumor.”