Cancer treatment developed at U of A heading for human drug trials

A new cancer treatment developed at the University of Alberta is heading for human trials in three Canadian cities by the end of 2020, including in Edmonton.

Researchers found that a compound initially developed at a Scottish university to treat African sleeping sickness shrunk cancerous human tumours in trials on mice. The drug PCLX-001, developed by U of A spinoff company Pacylex, will be tested on patients with stage four cancer who don’t respond to existing treatments.

Oncology professor Dr. John Mackey, director of clinical trials at the Cross Cancer institute and a Pacylex co-founder, says the project has reached an exciting point.

“This is one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve ever had in my 25-year career. It’s not often that you get a chance to try something truly novel, totally new, and have the potential to make such a big difference,” Mackey said Wednesday.

U of A cell biology professor Luc Berthiaume, and Pacylex co-founder, started researching the compound 10 years ago. He says lab tests show their drug was more effective than the top two drugs for lymphoma and leukaemia, and also showed promise fighting breast, colon and lung cancers.