Thursday, September 23, 2004

Business World: Ecopia's ECO-4601 and the Blood-Brain Barrier

This corporate press release on BusinessWire about a drug candidate for treatment of primary brain tumors:

Ecopia's Lead Cancer Compound Shown to Cross Blood-Brain Barrier
September 23, 2004 08:26 AM US Eastern Timezone

MONTREAL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 23, 2004--Ecopia BioSciences Inc. (TSX:EIA) has obtained results demonstrating that its lead compound ECO-4601, a drug candidate to treat brain cancer, crosses the blood-brain barrier. This new data, coupled with previous efficacy data in glioma animal models as well as the compound's safety profile, reinforces the Company's strategy to pursue the development of ECO-4601 for treatment of primary brain cancer. This will allow Ecopia to rapidly access an underserved and growing market of patients with a very bleak prognosis.

Current treatment options for primary brain cancer are limited and often present challenges in delivering the drug to its target, which is protected by the blood-brain barrier. The barrier acts as a filter, allowing the passage of only certain compounds. Several treatments on the market and in development require invasive techniques, including surgery, to administer the compounds directly to the brain. Such invasive methods of administering chemotherapeutic agents can lead to complications including infections and swelling of the brain. The results obtained today with ECO-4601 demonstrate its potential for easy delivery by intravenous infusion, which is commonly used in chemotherapy to treat cancer.

"These results are very exciting because the ability of ECO-4601 to cross the blood-brain barrier gives our compound a major competitive advantage in serving the unmet needs of brain cancer patients," stated Dr. Pierre Falardeau, Ecopia's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We will continue to focus our efforts on developing this compound and begin to prepare a filing of an IND for the FDA, in order to start human trials as soon as possible."

Ecopia scientists will present this, and other, data during a poster session on October 1, 2004, at the 16th EORTC-NIC-AACR Symposium in Geneva. This symposium brings together three of the world's leading cancer organisations and oncologists.

ECO-4601 is a novel compound discovered using the Ecopia's unique DECIPHER(R) technology. The Company has already reported data demonstrating the compound's ability to significantly inhibit tumour growth in animal models for an aggressive form of primary brain cancer.

Current prognosis for patients diagnosed with primary brain cancer is poor, with a two-year survival rate of 35%, dropping as low as 8% for some more aggressive forms. Each year 8.2 out of every 100,000 individuals are diagnosed with primary brain cancer, representing an estimated 58,000 new cases per year in developed countries. Presently, the standard of care involves surgery to remove the tumour when accessible, radiation to shrink the tumour and chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. The current chemotherapeutic standard of care for brain cancer costs an estimated US$25,000 per year, resulting in a potential market worth well over US$1 billion.

[ ... Read the full press release ... ]

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