Cancer drug aspirant Prescient Therapeutics says it has cured two women of breast cancer in its Phase 1b clinical trial of the drug PTX-200.

Prescient (ASX:PTX) treated a total of 28 women who had a kind of breast cancer that has little or no HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) protein.

This trial was designed to find out if PTX-200 could “inhibit an important tumour survival pathway known as Akt” when used in combination with a chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel.

Of that number, they were able to measure a clinical response in 10 women, half of whom had locally advanced disease (cancer that has grown outside the organ it started in but has not yet spread to distant parts of the body) and the other half had metastatic disease (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body).

Two women saw their cancers disappear, three saw a reduction in the tumour, three saw their disease stabilise, and two saw their condition worsen.

CEO Steven Yatomi-Clarke told Stockhead that with paclitaxel and surgery the normal cure rate is 16 per cent the overall response rate — that is women whose cancer disappears entirely or see an improvement — is 25 per cent

Their numbers were 20 per cent and a 50 per cent over all response rate.

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The PTX-200 is currently in a Phase 2 trial for women with locally advanced cancer, as well as trials for leukaemia and ovarian cancer.

Immunotherapy failure

The trial news comes as a major competing treatment area received a setback.

On Friday, US company Incyte said its drug epacadostat did not work with Merck’s blockbuster immunotherapy melanoma drug Keytruda.

Keytruda assists the immune system to fight cancer by helping the body’s T cells recognise cancer cells.

Prescient shares over the last three months.

Epacadostat was supposed to push the immunotherapy field further by helping Keytruda be more effective.

In Australia, one of the major players in immunotherapy, Viralytics, has been bought for $502 million by Merck.

Biotech entrepreneur Paul Hopper was behind that sale — and is also backing Prescient.

Mr Yatomi-Clarke says the ‘personalised’ therapy they practice and immunotherapy are complimentary.

“We’ve got a targeted therapy which is different to immunotherapy. A targeted therapy is when you turn off particular mutations that are driving cancer,” he said.

Where immunotherapy is very successful in treating cancers like melanoma, it’s less useful for prostate and some blood cancers.

Prescient shares were flat at midday, staying at 14c.