Russian cancer drug based on smallpox vaccine undergoes preclinical studies

23 October 2018

GMP News

Siberian scientists have brought to the final stage of preclinical testing the only Russian therapeutic cancer drug.

This part of the study is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, according to Sergei Netesov, Chairman of the Board of the Association for the Development of the Innovative Territorial Cluster of the Novosibirsk Region in the Sphere of Biopharmaceutical Technologies (‘Biopharm’).

“The drug, which is being developed in Siberia, will soon complete the preclinical studies. In theory, the study should end next year, before the end of 2019,” commented Mr. Netesov.

By this time, scientists will have to complete the study and submit a large-scale report on the results to the national center of expertise of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. As a result, drug developers expect to obtain authorization for conducting clinical trials.

Mr. Netesov said that he had no doubt that the studies would be successful, since the Siberian drug is an indirect analogue of a foreign developing, which is already undergoing the third phase of clinical trials and shows very good results.

“This is a smallpox vaccine virus. Based on it, a recombinant virus has been constructed, several dozens of different changes have been made to it, and it is now being tested abroad. Our virus is similar to it, not identical, but similar,” Mr. Netesov specified.

The project to create a Russian cancer drug based on smallpox vaccine has been included in the pharmaceutical industry support program Pharma 2020. The cost of preclinical testing, according to Mr. Netesov, is approximately 50 million rubles, and, under the terms of financing, a third of the costs were assumed by a private company.

The tests are carried out by scientists of The Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Novosibirsk) together with colleagues from The State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology(SRC VB) Vector – one of two centers in the world where the variola virus is stored. To create the drug, a live but weakened smallpox vaccine virus is used, which is “taught” to multiply in cancer cells and destroy them, almost not affecting healthy cells.

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