CytRx Corporation's Brain Cancer Drug Shows Promise in Mid-Stage Study

Published: Jan 06, 2015

CytRx Corporation's Brain Cancer Drug Shows Promise in Mid-Stage Study
January 6, 2015
By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Sr. Editor

Shares of cancer therapy company CytRx Corp skyrocketed more than 30 percent in early trading on the NADAQ Tuesday, after the firm said that said interim data from a mid-stage trial showed its experimental brain cancer drug had shrunk tumors and even kept them from progressing.

The drug, aldoxorubicin, is being closely watched because it is being tested on the most deadly form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). CytRx’s ongoing trial is using the chemotherapy agent to treat patients whose tumors had continued to grow despite previous surgeries and radiation treatments.

The fact that aldoxorubicin, which is an anthracycline, or a drug that interrupts cell division by rebooting cancer DNA, was able to both shrink and halt those tumors is a major boon for the company and its Wall Street backers.

"Aldoxorubicin appears to be the first anthracycline to cross the blood-brain barrier in GBM, potentially creating a new approach to attacking brain tumors," said Steven Kriegsman, chairman, president and CEO of CytRx, in a statement.

"These findings are early but important, and suggest that binding to albumin may play a crucial role in transporting chemotherapies that normally cannot cross the tumor blood-brain barrier into the malignancy,” he said. “They indicate that aldoxorubicin has the potential to address the unmet therapeutic needs of patients suffering from brain cancer. We currently expect to have more definitive data in the first half of this year, which we intend to submit for possible presentation at ASCO 2015."

Wall Street appeared to agree with Kriegsman, sending CytRx shares to a high of $3.72 on Tuesday, which pushed its total overall value from $50 million to about $207 million in only a few hours of trading, Reuters reported. The company still has a ways to go from its high of $8.35 achieved during this same month last year, but with a daily gain in the double percentage points, a full realization could be possible.

Aldoxorubicin does not have the same side effects as a sister drug, doxorubicin, which sometimes causes heart muscle damage and gastrointestinal illness in patients being treated by that drug. That, too, is attractive to investors, who are excited that a more palatable drug could soon be available for a cancer that affects around 12,000 Americans every year.

The news was a welcome relief for CytRx, who had a hold placed on its trials of the drug in November, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concern about a patient that had died. As a result, the company had to stop enrolling patients in the Phase II trial, but said Tuesday it expects more detailed data in the next few months.

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