The Noxopharm Ltd (ASX: NOX) share price has started the week in a positive fashion.
At one stage today the clinical-stage drug development company’s shares were up as much as 8% to 54 cents.
The Noxopharm share price has since pulled back a touch but is still up 2% to 51 cents at the time of writing.
Why did the Noxopharm share price surge higher?
Investors were buying Noxopharm shares today after it announced that it has joined a pilot study (IONIC-1) to explore the ability of Veyonda to boost the effectiveness of Bristol Myers Squibb’s nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of cancer.
Veyonda is a second-generation immuno-oncology drug candidate based on selective inhibition in cancer cells of the pro-survival secondary messenger, sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P).
The company notes that the body uses a gradient of S1P levels (high to low) to move immune cells between blood and tissues. Cancers express high levels of S1P, reversing that gradient and thereby expelling immune cells from tumours.
By inhibiting S1P in tumours, Veyonda is designed to restore a normal gradient, thereby allowing immune cells to repopulate tumours in a so-called COLD to HOT conversion.
What is IONIC-1?
Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as nivolumab have revolutionised the treatment of some cancers with what can be dramatic life-saving benefits. However, management notes that some patients have inherent resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors.
The IONIC-1 study will investigate whether Veyonda is able to overcome this resistance in patients with cancers such as breast, ovarian, prostate, and sarcoma cancers.
Principal Investigator and eminent oncologist, Professor De Souza, commented: “I’m excited to be working with Noxopharm and Bristol Myers Squibb on this study. Checkpoint inhibitors have made a tremendous difference to some patients with advanced cancer and if we can increase the number of patients that respond through the addition of Veyonda to their treatment regimen, we will make a significant impact, not only to those individuals, but also on the oncology landscape.”
The checkpoint inhibitor market, encompassing PD-1, PD-L1 and CTLA-4 inhibitors, is a multi-billion-dollar market which is experiencing rapid year on year growth. It is currently dominated by two major global pharmaceutical companies, one of which is Bristol Myers Squibb.