ASCO Annual Meeting keeps bringing positive results of European companies that cross the ocean to present their clinical trial outcomes. DNA Therapeutics, the French biopharma, presented the results of the first-in-man phase I/IIa trial of DT01 in patients with cutaneous metastatic melanoma.

Cancer cells can easily repair themselves after damage incurred in their DNA from conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. To limit this, researchers have tried to inhibit enzymes involved in the repair process. ‘There are multiple DNA repair pathways but there is no single enzyme that is common to all of them,’ said Dr. Marie Dutreix, CNRS research director at the Institut Curie. ‘As well as being effective, a therapeutic approach should also be non-toxic to healthy cells. With DT01, we have a unique approach.

Instead of targeting a specific enzyme of a repair pathway, DT01 works upstream of all repair pathways by preventing the detection of damage caused by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. By disrupting the signaling of the damage sites, the drug candidate prevents repair and triggers the death of cancer cells as they divide. Worldwide, DNA Therapeutics is the only company working on disrupting the damage signal. The specific characteristics of cancer cells make them more vulnerable to the effects of DT01 than healthy cells, ensuring that the latter are not damaged by this novel therapy.

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Following the positive results of the trial, where the candidate showed good response rates, DNA Therapeutics’ next step is to demonstrate DT01 systemic anticancer activity. DT01 will be tested in combination with chemotherapy in advanced stage cancers non responsive to standard therapy through a comprehensive Phase I/II clinical development program. Positive results generated in such a program would establish DT01 as a truly breakthrough therapy for the treatment of advanced cancers.

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