YM BioSciences is to acquire Canadian drug delivery company Delex Therapeutics and build its position in new drugs for cancer patients.
Delex is developing inhaleable products based on the opioid analgesic fentanyl to treat cancer pain. Its lead product, AeroLEF, is an inhalation delivery system that delivers both free and liposomal encapsulated fentanyl. The firm has already completed a Phase IIa trial with positive results and plans for further efficacy trials in acute and cancer pain in 2005.
YM BioSciences is a specialist in cancer drug development - it does not carry out its own research but licenses in compounds once they have passed preliminary proof of principle studies. The acquisition of Delex marks the first time that it has bought into a platform drug delivery technology, and as its interest will likely be more in the clinical candidate it may be that licensing opportunities will exist for companies interested in using AeroLEF outside the oncology arena.
Delex' platform, called Rose-DS (Rapid Onset and Sustained Effect Delivery System) is claimed to offer a unique combination of drug delivery attributes, including needle-free delivery by simple inhalation, a rapid onset of action comparable to intravenous administration, a sustained effect, and the ability to provide personalised, incremental dosing that allows for adjustment to suit a patient's specific needs.
The lungs are an excellent point of entry for large and small-molecule therapeutics, because they have a large surface area for absorption and transfer to the blood stream to take place, and the route avoids first-pass metabolism by the liver which breaks down the active compound.
Delex has also been developing Rose-DS products for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy and neuropathic/chronic pain.
The acquisition is expected to close in early May.