According to a recently published article in The Prostate, researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a new type of drug that they believe may have high therapeutic potential in the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).
The drug is known as Minnelide™. It is being developed by a company called Minneamrita Therapeutics LLC in conjunction with the research team at the University of Minnesota, and at present it is in the very earliest stages of clinical development.
Whether this agent will be able to demonstrate clinical efficacy and safety in the treatment of advanced forms of prostate cancer is unknown at the current time. What we know at the present — based on the recent article by Isharwal et al. and an earlier article by Lou on Science Business Exchange (SciBX) — is the following:
- Minnelide is a pro-drug that is converted to the active drug, known as triptolide, in the body.
- Triptolide and Minnelide have both shown activity against castration-resistant prostate cancer in in-vitro and animal models of CRPC.
- Triptolide couldn’t be dissolved in water or any other solution that could be injected into humans, which was why the soluble form of the pro-drug, Minnelide, had to be developed.
- Minnelide is currently in a Phase I clinical trial in gastrointestinal cancers to see what the appropriate dose range might be for use in larger clinical trials of efficacy and safety.
- The in-vitro and animal studies conducted to date have suggested that Minnelide and triptolide (which Minnelide is turned into after injection into the body) may be more efficacious against CRPC than current standard of care therapies like docetaxel and enzalutamide.
- Minnelide also has potential in the treatment of other forms of solid tumor such as pancreatic cancer.
We will be “watching this space” to see how progress may play out with this new candidate for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. One caution is that this is not the first time that people have developed pro-drugs of triptolide to test their efficacy in the treatment of cancer. None of those other pro-drugs have ever panned out, but maybe the current research team has found the magic formula!