Pharmaceutical company, Phosphagenics, has announced the commencement of animal studies on its anti-cancer compound, which claims to destroy diseased cells while not affecting normal ones by primarily acting as a signalling molecule and modulator of cancer pathways.
GTP-0805 is a phosphorylated variant of gamma-tocopherol and has been developed using Phosphagenics' phosphorylation technology base - used to enhance the bioavailability of drugs and improve absorption through the gastrointestinal tract or skin.
The proposed animal studies will assess the anti-cancer properties of GTP-0805 both alone and in combination with lycopene or with an anti-cancer drug, it being common practice to use combination therapy in the treatment of cancer.
Phosphagenics' earlier data, carried out by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, suggested that GTP-0805 could enhance the absorption and intracellular uptake of cancer drugs, potentially minimising both the doses required and the adverse effects of cytotoxic drug therapies.
Much has been expected of Phosphagenics' latest candidate, buoyed on by this encouraging preliminary data, which also claimed a significant advantage over the anti-breast cancer drug Nolvadex (tamoxifen citrate).
GTP-0805 proved more effective when directly comparing the two therapies in their ability to inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner.
The potential market for GTP-0805 as a cancer therapy product is believed to be significant with global sales of current breast cancer treatments estimated to be greater than $2 billion (€1.6 billion) per annum.
The gold-standard hormonal treatment for breast cancer, Nolvadex, achieved global sales of over $1bn in 2001, and Arimidex (anastrozole) sales of $0.8 billion in 2004.
Paclitaxel (Taxol), for the treatment of ovarian, breast and non-small cell lung cancer, achieved sales of over $1.5bn in 2000 prior to the introduction of generics, of which $988m was from the US market.
Previous laboratory studies on GTP-0805 found that the compound induced a greater than 90 per cent reduction in breast and prostate cancer cells.
In addition, GTP-0805 demonstrated a synergistic anti-cancer affect on prostate cancer cells when combined with the antioxidant carotenoid lycopene.
Lycopene, a carotenoid present as a red pigment in a number of fruit and vegetables, has been linked to cancer prevention.
According to Phosphagenics , the synergistic activity observed between GTP-0805 and lycopene in laboratory tests suggested that adding GTP-0805 to high lycopene-content foods, such as tomato pastes and sauces, might boost this natural carotenoid's activity.
Commercially, GTP-0805 may offer a number of product differentiation opportunities for multinational and functional food producers.
"The early-stage in vitro investigations of GTP-0805 demonstrate the potential of the compound in the treatment of cancer," said Dr Esra Ogru, executive director of Research and Development at Phosphagenics.
"We are particularly delighted with our initial test results because they suggest GTP-0805 has a unique action that selectively inhibits and destroys cancer cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged."