Race Initiates FTO Melanoma Preclinical Study

  • Race enters collaborative preclinical research program with The University of Newcastle to explore use of Bisantrene as a novel FTO directed treatment for melanoma
  • Research designed to identify drug combinations that improve upon current standard of care melanoma treatment with focus on immune checkpoint resistance
  • Project is Race’s first step under Pillar 1 of its Three Pillar strategy, designed to demonstrate Bisantrene’s potential in inhibiting FTO in humans

19 March 2021 – Race Oncology Limited (“Race”) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a collaborative preclinical research program with The University of Newcastle. Eminent melanoma cancer researchers, Professor Xu Dong Zhang and Associate Professor Lei Jin will lead the project.

The aim of this project is to explore the use of Bisantrene as a novel treatment for melanoma using cellular and mouse models to identify drug combinations that improve melanoma treatment, with a focus on treatment resistant cancer patients.

Bisantrene has recently been identified as a potent targeted inhibitor of the Fat Mass and Obesity associated protein (FTO). Previous studies have observed that FTO is overproduced in approximately 50% of metastatic melanoma cancers and the inhibition of FTO can overcome PD-1 immune checkpoint resistance in mouse models of melanoma. While there have been major improvements with melanoma treatment in recent decades, the five-year survival rate for advanced melanoma is still as low as ~25%

Race is pursuing Bisantrene therapies targeted at inhibiting FTO in both melanoma and clear cell renal cell carcinoma, as part of its Three Pillar strategy (ASX Announcement 30 Nov 2020). This work could lead to new melanoma treatments with improved safety and efficacy especially in treatment resistant cancers.

The results of this study will support Phase II human trials of a Bisantrene in melanoma, currently scheduled to begin in Australia in early 2022.

This project is to start immediately with results expected to be reported over the coming 12 months.
Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Daniel Tillett said: “This is an exciting development for Race and we are looking forward to collaborating with Prof Zhang and Jin on this transformational project. Recent scientific developments have identified Bisantrene as a potent targeted agent of FTO which offers the possibility of novel treatment options for patients with drug resistant melanomas that can rapidly be translated into the clinic.”

Melanoma remains one of the most dangerous cancers, with 7000 deaths in the USA and 1,500 deaths recorded in Australia in 2020.

The full announcement can be downloaded below