Decision Resources, Inc., one of the world's leading research and advisory firms focusing on pharmaceutical and health care issues, finds that Human Genome Sciences' mapatumumab (HGS-ETR1) may become one of the first successful drug therapies to target a central protein in the apoptosis cascade. Mapatumumab is an agonistic monoclonal antibody that mimics the action of the tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) in its ability to induce apoptosis by binding to TRAIL receptor 1.
Developed in partnership with Cambridge Antibody Technology, mapatumumab is currently in Phase II clinical trials for several cancers. According to the upcoming Pathways report entitled Apoptosis Modulators: First Round Failures, Second Round Blockbusters? Human Genome Sciences has deals with both GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda for sales and marketing of the drug. A deal has also been struck with DakoCytomation to develop a diagnostic test to identify cancer patients overexpressing the TRAIL receptors. Similar to the restriction of use for Genentech's Herceptin to only those patients overexpressing the HER-2 protein, the market potential of mapatumumab is highly dependent on the number of patients overexpressing the TRAIL receptor protein.
"Because it is a well-targeted therapy and acts externally to the cell, we believe that this drug is likely to have a more favorable safety profile than other apoptosis modulators in development, although clinical data have not yet been released to support this assumption," said Jason LaBonte, director, Decision Resources, Inc. "If trial data prove positive, the drug should reach the market in 2011. Mapatumumab's most important feature is that, unlike Herceptin, which is limited to use in breast cancer, mapatumumab could be effective in a wide variety of cancers. This fact is great news for cancer patients and for Human Genome Sciences."
Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is the body's natural process for removing unwanted or harmful cells. This process is active during fetal development in shaping organs and tissues, and it is the body's natural mechanism for preventing cell accumulation. Since the mid 1990s, researchers have believed that disruptions in apoptosis are a key component in many cancers and autoimmune disorders.
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