Cleveland BioLabs drug, chemo kill neuroblastomas in mice

A new drug, given along with chemotherapy, has helped beat back neuroblastoma tumors in mice. Buffalo, NY-based Cleveland BioLabs ($CBLI) and its Russian subsidiary Incuron are developing the compound. They broke the news at last week's Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Association 2012 meeting in Toronto.

Researchers collaborated globally on the animal study, with teams from the Children's Cancer Institute Australia, Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, Cleveland BioLabs and Incuron, a Russian venture co-founded by the Russian fund Bioprocess Capital Ventures and Cleveland BioLabs.

According to the results, CBL0137 given on its own helped delay neuroblastoma tumor growth in mice and prolonged their lives, but failed to completely defeat the tumor. But combining the drug with the chemotherapy agents cyclophosphamide and topotecan helped all of the mice achieve total tumor regression, according to the research team. They gave CBL0137 orally or intravenously in combination with the chemotherapy and the results were the same. The mice had spontaneous neuroblastomas, which were very similar to the human versions.

Researcher Michelle Haber of the Children's Cancer Institute Australia and president of the ANR association described the finding as "the first time we have achieved complete regression in tumor-bearing animals." That's significant, considering that neuroblastomas, which often occur in young children, can be hard to treat. With that in mind, however, the drug is years away from human testing, at least in the U.S. Still, the company has filed an investigational new drug application to test an oral version of the drug in the Russian Federation. And the company is continuing pre-IND discussions with the FDA about testing an IV version of CBL0137. According to Buffalo Business First, Phase I trials must be completed in adults first before the drug can be tested in children.

Progress on CBL0137 comes two months after a division of the Department of Health and Human Services decided not to provide further funding for CBLB502, a Cleveland BioLabs drug designed to treat radiation poisoning after a possible "dirty bomb" attack on a U.S. city.

- read the release
- check out the Buffalo Business First story

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