Race Oncology (ASX:RAC) has capped off a rise from 6 cents in mid-June last year to 49 cents this morning after  demonstrating the cancer-fighting power of its Bisantrene drug.

Bisantrene had passed clinical trials against a rare bone cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) back in the 1980s, but its progress was held up by big pharmaceutical mergers.

Race was confident in the drugs success but  still had to do its own clinical trials. The outcome of that trial, on 10 patients at Israel’s Sheba Medical Centre was announced this morning.

Overall the drug showed an objective clinical response in 40 per cent of patients. Three patients achieving a partial remission and one achieved a complete remission.

To lay-people a 40 per cent response rate may sound low. But it was a single course of treatment and on patients that were at a late stage.

“To get a positive Phase 2 result in a company of our market cap is an amazingly good result,” Race’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Daniel Tillett told Stockhead. 

“It’s really hard to get across in an [ASX] release just how to close to death these patients were, these were the hardest possible patients to treat you could find.

“To get a response in those patients is something I don’t think anyone expected. The investigators were surprised positively, we were surprised positively as well but it really does emphasise how robust and valuable this drug is.

“This is showing that even in hard-to-treat patients it’s working very well.”


Less adverse affects

This morning’s ASX announcement noted there were some adverse affects. But they were at lower levels than those seen in historic bisantrene trials and current treatments on the market.

“To call them side-effects is really a bit of a misnoma. They’re really a treatment effect – when you get chemo[therapy] and your hair falls our, yes it is a side-effect of chemo but that is basically expected for the treatment, it is just the nature of the way the drug works,” Dr Tillett explained.

“One of the things that was quite positive is we didn’t see some of the severe toxicities of the kidney and the liver that had been seen in some of the historical trials which I thought was very interesting,” Dr Tillett said.

Today shares rose over 50 per cent, a figure paling in comparison to its 12 month rise.