Cellectar Advances Drug Research With Pierre Fabre, Other Partners

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Less than a year after Cellectar Biosciences announced a partnership with Pierre Fabre aimed at developing new cancer treatments, the collaboration appears to be bearing fruit.

Madison, WI-based Cellectar (NASDAQ: CLRB) said Thursday that it has created multiple tumor-targeting compounds and has already started using them in a series of studies. The compounds were made using cancer-killing agents called “cytotoxics” that were developed by Pierre Fabre, a French pharmaceutical company. These molecules were then combined with Cellectar’s drug delivery technology to construct the novel compounds, the company said.

The announcement capped a newsy seven-day stretch for Cellectar, which reported third-quarter earnings on Nov. 11 before providing new details on a clinical study the company is planning to kick off early next year.

Cellectar said it has started performing studies of treating a variety of solid tumors with the compounds that stemmed from work the company did with Pierre Fabre. It’s currently collecting early efficacy data from those studies. There are plans for additional research on the drugs’ effectiveness in treating melanoma, as well as cancers of the lung and colon.

“We are pleased with the advancement of these programs, and look forward to sharing data from our development work with Pierre Fabre,” said Jim Caruso, president and CEO of Cellectar, in a prepared statement.

In December, when Cellectar announced it was teaming up with Pierre Fabre, Caruso told my colleague Jeff Engel that partnerships allow Cellectar to bring in revenue from its drug delivery technology without taking on the risk that can come with trying to commercialize treatments singlehandedly.

Cellectar’s technology is based in part on phospholipid ethers, which are designed to help kill tumors while minimizing the amount of healthy tissue destroyed in the process. The Pierre Fabre collaboration falls under a Cellectar program in which non-targeted cytotoxics are converted into targeted cancer treatments, the company said.

Jarrod Longcor, a senior vice president at Cellectar, said the company will provide more updates on its collaboration with Pierre Fabre in the first half of 2017, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of a conference call with investors last week.

Separately, Cellectar said Tuesday that it selected Raleigh, NC-based INC Research (NASDAQ: INCR) to serve as a contract research organization for an upcoming clinical trial of Cellectar’s leading drug candidate, which has the potential to treat multiple myeloma and other types of blood cancer.

Cellectar had previously made public several pieces of information pertaining to the phase 2 clinical study of its drug candidate, known as CLR 131. The trial is supported by a $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute and will start next year between January and March, Cellectar has said.

The company revealed new details about the trial on Tuesday. Cellectar said that it expects the $2 million NCI grant will cover about half of the study’s cost. The company also said that under the terms of the grant, Cellectar can pursue an additional $3 million in funding for a phase 3 trial of CLR 131.

Investors were apparently pleased with the new information. Shares in Cellectar closed at $2.35 a share Tuesday, up more than 26 percent from Monday’s closing price of $1.86 per share. As of 11:15 a.m. In New York Friday, the company’s stock price was $2.40 a share.

Cellectar posted a net loss of $2.5 million in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30. The company ended the third quarter with $5.6 million in cash and cash equivalents.