This is a guest post from former Genome Alberta staffer Adam Kirkby. You can contact him by email anytime.
As part of last year’s annual BIO conference in Philadelphia, Genome Alberta profiled some of the work being done by Pacylex who are developing a novel cancer drug following a discovery at the University of Alberta which identified a previously unknown cellular pathway. Pacylex was back at BIO this year but like the rest of us, was participating though the BIO Digital platform.
Since we last caught up with the company they have made a lot of headway in bringing this exciting drug to market. At the beginning of 2020 Pacylex completed it’s toxicology dosing study, which is an important test to determine the appropriate dose for the drug when trialing in humans. This is exciting for two reasons, the first being that PCLX-001 will soon be entering clinical trials and the second is that some of the early results from this and previous animal trials have been quite remarkable. The initial studies focused on blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphomas, where PCLX-001 rapidly eliminated all cancerous cells. The drug has also shown to be effective in halting the growth of solid tumours that are known to be drug resistant. Although there is no guarantee that these results will directly translate to a human model, animal trials do not get much more promising than this.
As with most companies, COVID-19 has thrown some uncertainty into the mix as work places are closed and resources diverted it’s hard to put exact dates on things, but progress is coming on strong and clinical trials are currently scheduled to begin at the end of 2020. But anyone familiar with the world of drug development knows that clinical trials are an expensive endeavour. To this end Pacylex will be seeking funding from investors that will support them through phase 2 of the trials. They’re currently seeking traditional avenues of funding, including a multimillion-dollar deal with MD Anderson, but we’ve seen a great deal of creativity from Pacylex in the past. Last August Pacylex was the beneficiary of funds which were generated through the world's longest baseball game, which included 50 players, lasted for a whopping 84 hours and generated over half a million dollars in funding. (See the video below for a description of the event)
Considering that cell culture experiments have show that PCLX-001 is 10-times more potent than Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) and Dasatinib (Sprycel), two multi-billion-dollar drugs for blood cancers, its not hard to imagine a significant amount of investor interest. But what makes this drug so unique compared to its peers? The more curious readers among you may be interested in reading about how PCLX-001 works in one of our previous blog posts.