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Silence Researchers Publish Preclinical Data on Cancer Drug

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Researchers from Silence Therapeutics this week published data showing that the company's phase I cancer drug Atu-027 could prevent pulmonary metastasis in multiple mouse models of breast cancer.

The findings appeared in the latest issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

Atu-027 is a blunt-ended siRNA targeting the protein kinase PKN-3. Originally developed by Atugen, which was later acquired by Silence, the cancer drug entered a phase I study in patients with solid tumors this summer. The trial is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2011.

In the newly published study, Atu-027, when administered intravenously to the mice, had "a clear inhibitory effect on the formation of pulmonary metastasis," Silence said.

"In particular, formation of spontaneous lung metastasis was significantly inhibited in animals with large tumor grafts, as well as in mice with resected primary mammary fat pad tumors," according to the study's abstract. Additionally, the paper provides "evidence that an increase in VE-cadherin protein levels as a downstream result of PKN3 target gene inhibition may change endothelial function, resulting in reduced colonization and micrometastasis formation."

"With metastasis directly linked to high rates of mortality in cancer patients, the prevention of metastasis dissemination and formation is a critical goal of cancer treatment," Silence added.