Cellmid 2017 Annual Report 11
Medicinal cannabis has received extensive media attention
recently as regulation of the therapeutic use of marihuana
opens up new treatment options for patients. Medicinal
marihuana has a number of benefits in cancer treatment
including relieving pain and nausea, and improving
appetite. There is sound scientific evidence that distinct
chemical components of cannabis called cannabinoids, are
potent anti-cancer agents, with direct anti-tumour actions
including induction of cancer cell death.
However, as for many cancer drugs, tumours can develop
resistance to cannabinoids, which is where MK antibodies
come in. In the Spanish study Cellmid’s collaborators, led by
Professor Guillermo Velasco, observed that MK antibodies
in combination with the cannabinoid THC inhibited tumour
growth in gliomas that were resistant to THC alone.
Overcoming THC resistance, or resistance to medicinal
marihuana and its derivates, by treatment with a MK
antibody may be the key to improving clinical efficacy of
cannabis. It provides a strong rationale for the continued
clinical development of MK antibodies to treat brain
cancer, especially so in collaboration with partners that
have capabilities in cannabis research.
Lyramid has been granted $100,000 through the
Innovation Connections Grants program from the
Australian Government during FY2017. The grant will
support a collaboration with kidney specialists and
University of Sydney research scientists at the Westmead
Institute. The research supported by the grants will
test the efficacy of MK antibodies for the treatment of
chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cardiovascular (CV)
complications of CKD in preclinical rodent models.
The experiments will use therapeutic antibodies developed
by Lyramid, and are expected to provide further evidence
that blocking MK can protect the kidney from injury in CKD
patients. The work follows previous studies at the Westmead
Institute in a fibrosis model of chronic kidney injury where
MK antibodies preserved renal structure and function.
The Australian Government funding provides a major
boost to Lyramid’s CKD program and will consolidate
collaborations with key clinicians and academic
researchers. The group at the Westmead Institute will not
only provide expertise in performing complex experiments
to study CKD and associated CV complications, but also
contribute clinical and physiological insights into the
disease processes involved.
Lyramid’s midkine assets received strong endorsement
in June 2017 when the highest ranked paper Nature has
published the results of a study showing that MK is a crucial
agent in the promotion of melanoma metastasis.
The paper, entitled “Whole-body imaging of
lymphovascular niches identifies pre-metastatic roles of
midkine”, by Professor Marisol Soengas and her group
at the CNIO in Madrid, describes how midkine drives the
often-fatal metastatic spread of melanoma cells from the
primary tumour in the skin to distant organs such as liver,
lung, bone and brain.
MK antibodies have already shown considerable promise in
reducing tumour growth and restricting new blood supply
to different solid tumours (some of these results have
been released in the ASX announcements on 3 October
2013 and 5 October 2016). Together with these new
discoveries around metastasis, inhibiting midkine for better
treatment of melanoma promises to be a compelling drug
development program for Lyramid.
Whilst considerable data has already been published
on the prognostic value of MK in various tumour types,
Dr Soengas’ research raised it to prominence that
higher midkine levels correspond with poor therapeutic
outcomes. The study is particularly important as it provides
strong validation for Lyramid’s cancer therapeutic programs
using MK antibodies.
The Nature publication increased visibility of Lyramid’s
cancer therapeutic programs targeting MK and its value
as a prognostic marker for various tumour types. Since
the publications Lyramid has commenced discussions with
potential commercial and research partners.