Amplia Therapeutics (ASX: AMP) shares surged this morning after announcing positive pre-clinical data for its anti-cancer drug.

The drug, AMP945, targets Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK). It’s a protein in humans that help cancer cells spread. (Yes, you read correct, your body can help cancer spread.)

A pre-clinical University of Edinburgh study on the effects of FAK inhibitors in a common skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is complete. The market received the results this morning.

Simply put, “AMP945 exerts several effects that are consistent with the potential to restore the patient’s own anti-tumour immune responses”.

Pic: Amplia Therapeutics

The results included the following findings:

  • Tumour volumes in mice treated with AMP945 were half that of mice with the ‘non-active control vehicle’
  • Levels of FAK were undetectable in such mice
  • A significant reduction in tumour-associated macrophages and granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells
  • A significant reduction of tumour-associated endothelial cells.

Shares jumped as high as 156 per cent in this morning’s trade before settling at 18 cents – 44 per cent higher that yesterday’s close.

What now?

The company told shareholders this morning future pre-clinical studies were planned but it was proud of the results. CEO John Lambert said he consequently wanted the next steps to be taken fast.

“We consider the results of this study to be highly encouraging and the data further confirms Amplia’s view that our lead drug candidate AMP945 should be advanced into clinical development as quickly as possible,” he said.

The company has previously indicated it would conduct a Phase I study in the second half of 2019 but admitted it would need to raise capital for this. It raised $360,000 in a placement in June and is currently conducting a $2.2 million rights issue. A subsequent Phase II trial would be undertaken in 2020.

Amplia entered the ASX in March 2018 through a reverse takeover with Innate Immunotherapeutics following the failure of the Phase II clinical study for its anti-multiple sclerosis drug.