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GEN News Highlights : Nov 6, 2013

Novogen, Yale Launch Venture to Develop Ovarian Cancer Drugs

Novogen said today it is joining Yale University to launch a joint venture focused on fighting ovarian cancer by developing personalized approaches to chemotherapy.

The venture, named CanTx, will advance into clinical phases Novogen's super-benzopyran drug technology for ovarian cancer, which isolates and kills cancer cells and cancer stem cells, and marry the technology with a drug delivery model developed by Gil Mor, M.D., Ph.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive science at Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Mor and colleagues have developed a targeted delivery system allowing virtually all of an injected drug to reach its intended target in mice—compared to the typical 3% of intravenous anticancer drugs that actually reaches the tumor. The system will deliver a payload of a Novogen drug candidate that, when administered intraperitoneally to women with ovarian cancer, has shown high cytotoxicity against ovarian cancer cells, including ovarian cancer stem cells. The investigational drug is expected to enter clinical studies in 2014.

Dr. Mor will co-lead clinical development efforts for CanTx, which said he is the world’s first researcher to have isolated ovarian cancer stem cells. Novogen will retain full ownership of its drug technology intellectual property, but will grant CanTx access to that IP for drug development purposes.

"Around 70% of ovarian cancer patients who respond to first-round chemotherapy will eventually experience tumor recurrence," Dr. Mor said in a statement. "Our research with the Novogen super-benzopyran family of drugs shows a high degree of activity against ovarian cancer stem cells where no other approach has worked in our experience to date. We believe that by combining this powerful new personalized approach with our unique drug delivery model, we may be able to treat ovarian cancer and prevent its recurrence."

Longer-term, CanTx aims to provide personalized chemotherapy approaches to individuals, as well as speed up translation of new therapies by advancing them into clinical studies in months rather than years.

Novogen said it will continue to explore applications of the same technology platform in a range of other clinical indications including glioblastoma, along with its antitropomyosin drug technology in the areas of prostate cancer, melanoma, and neuroblastoma.

CanTx will be 85% owned by Novogen, with the remainder owned by Yale. Novogen’s CEO, Graham Kelly, Ph.D., will serve as CEO of CanTx, whose board will consist of directors representing both Novogen and Yale.