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Scientific peers validate PEP005 research

The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) and Peplin Biotech Ltd. have announced that five years of collaborative research on Peplin’s new cancer drug, PEP005, has been published in the prestigious peer reviewed international journal,Cancer Research (Cancer Res. 2004 Apr 15;64(8):2833-9). This joint project involved QIMR scientists Steve Ogbourne and Peter Parsons (Melanoma Genomics) and Andreas Suhrbier (Immunovirology) and other members of their laboratories.

Peplin Executive Director of Research, Dr Jim Aylward said publication of the research paper in such a highly respected journal was an enormous validation by international peers of the quality of the science behind PEP005. “While we are moving forward aggressively to commercialise PEP005 for skin cancer with our US partner Allergan, it is gratifying to receive such respected recognition,” said Dr Aylward, who is a co-author of the paper. “It is also instructive to appreciate the wide range of other cancers that this molecule may be effective in treating.”

The article illustrates that three daily topical applications of PEP005 onto the skin above the tumour resulted in complete clearance of tumours in mice. These tumours include melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma (both skin cancers) and lung, cervical and prostate cancers. Importantly, after a few weeks the skin over the previously existing tumour is almost normal, without significant scarring or loss of flexibility.

The article also highlighted that PEP005 as a topical agent has a new cancer killing mechanism, which is different from the way that current cancer chemotherapy kills cancer cells. PEP005 induces primary necrotic cell death rather than the apoptotic cell death that is caused by current chemotherapeutic agents.

QIMR Director, Professor Michael Good said the article was testimony to Queensland’s world-class research climate. “QIMR has been intimately involved in the development of Queensland intellectual property. It is rewarding to see the quality of Queensland research affirmed by our international peers, and also to see it move forward towards commercial reality,” he said. Minister for State Development and Innovation Mr. Tony McGrady said the article demonstrated that the Queensland Government’s significant investment in biotechnology was paying off.