Demcizumab (OMP-21M18), a novel anti-cancer stem cell product, is beginning a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Demcizumab is a monoclonal antibody designed for the treatment of ovarian cancer. The antibody was developed by OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and is a novel therapeutic that targets cancer stem cells. The trial is funded in part by an ovarian cancer National Cancer Institute SPORE Grant program.
Demcizumab will be tested along with paclitaxel in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or primary peritoneal cancer. A Phase 2 trial will begin following a phase 1b safety run-in. Endpoints for Phase 2 will be to determine progression-free survival and response rate of demcizumab in combination with paclitaxel.
“Women with platinum-resistant ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers are in need of new treatment options. We believe that an investigational therapy such as demcizumab, with its novel anti-cancer stem cell mechanism of action, could yield important results for these patients,” notes Dr. Robert Coleman, Principal Investigator who treated the first patient on the study.
According to Dr. Anil Sood, Professor & Vice Chair, Translational Research in the Department, who will be working on the trial, researchers will be looking at translation science and biomarkers to determine the demcizumab mechanism and try to identify predictors of therapeutic responses. Dr. Sood made headlines earlier in the month with his work in demonstrating for the first time that a family of microRNAs – miR-200 – blocks cancer progression and metastasis by reducing a tumor’s ability to develop new blood vessels around itself.
Dr. Jakob Dupont, Chief Medical Officer of OncoMed notes, “We have observed strong preclinical efficacy of demcizumab and paclitaxel in patient-derived ovarian cancer xenograft models, as well as early evidence of activity of demcizumab in ovarian cancer in the Phase 1a single-agent study of demcizumab.”
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are cells in a tumor that drive growth and spread of a tumor. CSCs have the ability to divide, creating daughter cells that give rise to new CSCs, as well as differentiate into other cell types that form the rest of the tumor. Cancer drugs often target other cells in a tumor because current drugs have little impact on CSCs, which means the tumor may persist. OncoMed products actually target CSCs by inhibiting CSCs ability to create daughter cells and drive CSCs differentiation to a non-tumorigenic state as well as impact other cells within the tumor.