Acacia Pharma To Progress Two Projects For Nausea

Cambridge, UK – Acacia Pharma, a pharmaceutical company specialising in the development of drugs for cancer supportive care, announces the initiation of two clinical development programmes: APD421 for the prevention and treatment of nausea & vomiting; and APD515 for the treatment of xerostomia (dry mouth). Clinical studies will commence in the final quarter of 2010.

APD421 is an intravenous formulation of a currently marketed drug for the new use of prevention and treatment of nausea & vomiting. The drug is a dopamine D2 antagonist and data generated by Acacia Pharma suggest that it could offer advantages over existing D2 antagonists given its significantly improved therapeutic window. APD421 has been shown by Acacia Pharma to be highly effective in preclinical models of both post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) and chemotherapy-induced nausea & vomiting (CINV). Initially, APD421 will be developed for PONV, as this provides the most rapid development and commercialisation opportunity owing to the acute nature of the condition and the large number of surgical procedures performed. It will then be developed for CINV once clinical proof-of-concept has been shown. The active ingredient in APD421 also has the potential to be formulated in non-injectable presentations for use by patients outside the hospital environment.  This is an important benefit for patients being treated for CINV on an outpatient basis. PONV occurs in approximately 35% of all surgical patients (there are >130 million surgical procedures worldwide per annum) and 70% of high risk patients and is a major concern in patients undergoing general anaesthesia. PONV is currently treated using a multimodal approach, including the use of combination pharmacotherapy. Despite this about a third of patients given prophylaxis require rescue therapy in the first six hours after surgery and 40% in the first 24 hours. CINV is reasonably well controlled in the early phase (ie when patients are dosed with chemotherapy), but less well in the late phase when patients go home.

APD515 is an optimised oromucosal formulation of a currently marketed drug for the new use of treatment of xerostomia. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, can result from reduced salivary flow or altered salivary composition and occurs as a result of salivary gland dysfunction. APD515 has been developed by Acacia Pharma as a liquid formulation to be applied directly to the inner lining of the mouth allowing it to act locally on the salivary glands, with little or no absorption into the general circulation. Avoiding systemic exposure greatly reduces the potential for side effects, a significant advantage over currently approved salivary stimulants, which have to be dosed orally. Preclinical efficacy and safety investigations of APD515 have been completed supporting the decision to move the product into clinical development. Initially, APD515 will be developed as a treatment for xerostomia in advanced cancer patients. It has been reported that 70-80% of advanced cancer patients suffer from xerostomia either as a direct result of their disease, their chemotherapy or as a consequence of concomitant medicines. Xerostomia is also common among the elderly and in patients taking a wide variety of common medicines, including tranquilisers, antidepressants, opioid painkillers and H2-blockers. APD515 will be developed in other such populations when clinical proof of concept has been obtained.

Acacia Pharma’s CEO, Dr Julian Gilbert, commented: “We are delighted to announce our decision to move both APD421 and APD515 into clinical development in such significant areas of unmet need as nausea & vomiting and xerostomia. Acacia Pharma’s objective is to provide physicians with supportive care products that allow patients to receive the optimal treatment for their primary condition and significantly improve their quality of life. 

“Both products comprise new uses for drugs currently marketed in a completely different indication, and both work by a clinically validated mechanism of action. This approach to generating new products is able greatly to reduce development risk and time to market.”


Contacts 

Acacia Pharma
Dr Julian Gilbert 
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 875132

Citigate Dewe Rogerson 
David Dible 
Dr Mark Swallow 
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7638 9571

About Acacia Pharma

Acacia Pharma (www.acaciapharma.com) is a pharmaceutical company focused on cancer supportive care, a rapidly developing commercial opportunity. The growth in the cancer supportive care market has been driven by the increasing incidence of cancer, the expansion of effective cancer therapies and the desire to improve both the effectiveness of treatment and the quality of life of cancer patients.

Acacia Pharma has generated a pipeline of product opportunities addressing a range of supportive care indications such as nausea & vomiting, xerostomia and cachexia using a commercially driven approach to product discovery based on known drugs. This strategy leads to product opportunities with a higher probability of success and enables rapid clinical proof-of concept. In addition, Acacia Pharma’s products are expected to reach the market quickly given that they are based on the novel use of well-characterised pharmaceuticals.

Acacia Pharma is led by an experienced management team who have already successfully built and exited a number of life sciences companies. Management and Gilde Healthcare are the Company’s key shareholders. Acacia Pharma is based in Cambridge, UK.