Nerviano Medical Sciences Invited by EORTC-NCI-AACR to Present the State-of-the-Art of Aurora

    First Responses in Solid Tumours Reported.

    NERVIANO, ITALY, Oct. 23 /CNW/ - Aurora inhibitors play a key role in
cell duplication and are implicated in both the onset and progression of
numerous types of tumour. A lecture focusing on Aurora kinase inhibitors will
be presented today by Dr. Bernard Laffranchi during the 20th EORTC-NCI-AACR
Symposium "Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics" organised from 21st to
24th October 2008 in Geneva. Dr Laffranchi, Director Clinical Research of
Nerviano Medical Sciences, the largest R&D cancer drug stand alone company in
Europe ( has been invited to give a presentation on
the state-of-the-art of Aurora kinase inhibitors, providing a comprehensive
summary of ongoing clinical studies being performed on this molecular target
to which increasing attention is being paid by the experts.
    "Nerviano Medical Sciences (NMS) has been chosen by these prestigious
scientific societies in view of the fact that the Italian centre has a
recognized leadership in research & development of Aurora inhibitors,"
explains Francesco Colotta, Research & Development Director at NMS. Indeed,
compounds capable of inhibiting activity of this kinase family and displaying
anti-tumour efficacy in a wide range of solid and blood cancers models were
first identified at Nerviano. Moreover, emphasises Dr. Colotta, the Aurora
inhibitors discovered at Nerviano were the first to be evaluated in patients
and to undergo clinical development.
    "This symposium will be organised in a particularly pragmatic fashion and
provides a wide-ranging overview of all data collected with regard to future
treatment of patients," underlines Dr. Colotta. "Preliminary results of human
clinical Phase II trials with Aurora inhibitors carried out by NMS are
underway," continues Dr. Colotta. The product at the most advanced stage of
development is PHA 739358, a selective inhibitor of the entire Aurora kinase
family (A, B and C), which, terminated Phase I studies and is now undergoing
clinical Phase II trials in solid tumours and blood cancers at some of the
most widely acknowledged international clinics: Erasmus Medical Center,
Rotterdam, Policlinico Gemelli, Rome, Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France,
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of California, San
Francisco (UCSF) Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, to name some of the
most important. "This low molecular weight compound is inhibiting growth of
tumour cells by interacting with mitosis during cell proliferation for which
Aurora kinases are essential."
    During the EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium a recently identified biomarker used
to assess PHA 739358 activity will also be presented by Dr. Bernard
Laffranchi, NMS. The marker, Histone H3, is phosphorylated by Aurora kinases
and is strongly reduced following treatment with the compound. "This
phenomenon was initially highlighted in experimental tumour models and was
recently confirmed by findings obtained from patient biopsies", explains
Laffranchi. A decreased phosphorylation of Histone H3 in patients treated with
PHA 739358 supports this hypothesis whereby the anti-cancer activity exerted
by the compound is mediated through inhibition of Aurora kinases.
    "Results obtained to date in humans reveal that PHA 739358 is a molecule
with a good tolerability profile and promising hints of activity were seen,"
states Dr. Colotta. In Phase I trials, PHA 739358 was administered
intravenously to patients with advanced and progressive solid tumours. In 20%
of patients treated the disease stabilised, half of which for a period
exceeding six months in subjects affected by cancer of the kidney, oesophagus,
ovary, colon or non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Toxicity, ranged from
slight to moderate, was reversible and easily manageable from a clinical point
of view. "In Phase I trials a partial response to treatment with this molecule
was also observed in a patient with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) who, upon
treatment, displayed a 77% reduction of one cancer lesion and resolution of a
second one," concludes Dr. Colotta.

    Abstract no: 243, presented 10.15 hrs on Thursday 23 October, Plenary
session 5


For further information:

For further information: Nerviano Medical Sciences, Maria D'Acquino,
Phone +39-0331-581013 - mobile +39-335-18-63-052, Email

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