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Cranbury-based Rafael Pharma partners with Atlantic Health for testing on new cancer drug

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Cranbury-based Rafael Pharmaceuticals Inc. is partnering with Atlantic Health System to initiate Phase I clinical trials of a new drug to treat pancreatic cancer.

The new drug, CPI-163, will be given to patients taking existing chemotherapeutic agents gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. The new drug is designed to disrupt the altered energy production pathways in cancer cells by targeting their mitochondrial metabolism. The purpose of the study is to establish the maximum dose of CPI-613 that can be given in conjunction with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. The ultimate goal is to help increase the survival rate of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Rafael Pharmaceuticals, a clinical stage company and leader in the field of cancer metabolism-based therapeutics, announced Friday, the initiation of a Phase I clinical trial of CPI-613 in combination with chemotherapeutic agents, gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel, for patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer. The study will be conducted in collaboration with Atlantic Health System. CPI-613 is a first-in-class drug with a unique mode of action and is Rafael’s lead altered energy metabolism directed (AEMD) drug candidate. The drug is designed to disrupt the altered energy-production pathways in cancer cells by targeting their mitochondrial metabolism. 

The primary aim of the study is to establish the maximum tolerated dose of CPI-613 when given in combination with gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel for patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Angela Alistar, medical director of gastrointestinal medical oncology at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center of Morristown Medical Center, which is part of Atlantic Health System, said in a press release that, “Strategies to enhance our current standard of care options are sorely needed in pancreatic cancer. Due to the low toxicity profile of CPI -613 as a single agent, I anticipate good tolerance in combination with the gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel regimen. I am excited to be able to offer this novel option to our patients with pancreatic cancer. Targeting metabolism in pancreatic cancer has a strong scientific rationale.” 

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio


Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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