Millennium Pharmaceuticals, a division of Takeda Oncology Company of Japan, released it’s “curtain raiser” press release Friday evening. What is a “curtain raiser” press release? These are pre-ASCO releases, distributed to the press to create excitement prior to the actual event.

Along with Celgene, Millennium is one of the two largest and most successful multiple myeloma chemotherapy drug companies. It’s primary drug, Velcade, has, in some cases, doubled the median life expectancy of multiple myeloma patients.

I just wrote an article about Millennium and the trend toward crossover chemotherapy earlier today on this site. But Takeda and Millennium are making progress in other research areas, against other forms of cancer. Here is an inside look at some of the most anticipated research studies their scientists will be presenting at ASCO:

Pipeline Solid Tumor Data

TAK-700, a compound in development for the treatment of prostate cancer, will have a first presentation of Phase II data. This study is examining the use of TAK-700 in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Phase I data from that study were presented in March 2010 at ASCO’s Genitourinary Cancers Symposium (ASCO GU) held in San Francisco, California.

MLN8237 is an oral compound designed to selectively inhibit Aurora A kinase and was discovered by Millennium scientists. Data from this ongoing Phase I trial were selected for oral presentation during the Developmental Therapeutics – Experimental Therapeutics session. First clinical data of MLN8237 were presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of ASCO.

Additional presentations at ASCO will include the presentation of first clinical data for several investigational molecules from the Company’s robust oncology pipeline. MLN9708 is the first oral proteasome inhibitor to enter clinical trials and is based on the Company’s groundbreaking research in protein homeostasis. Phase I data are being presented at this year’s ASCO. TAK-701 is a humanized monoclonal antibody against HGF. Currently, TAK-701 is in Phase I clinical trials for advanced malignancies. Key presentations at ASCO are scheduled to include:

Safety, pharmacokinetics and efficacy of TAK-700 in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: a phase 1/2 open-label study
Presenter: Robert Dreicer, M.D., FACP, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
Abstract #3084: Poster presentation session: Monday, June 7, 8 :00 am CT

Phase I study of the investigational drug MLN8237, an Aurora A kinase (AAK) inhibitor, in patients (pts) with solid tumors
Presenter: E. Claire Dees, M.D., M.Sc., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Abstract #3010: Oral presentation session: Saturday, June 4, 2:15 pm CT

First-in-human phase 1 dose-escalation study of investigational drug MLN9708, a second-generation proteasome inhibitor, in advanced non-hematologic malignancies
Presenter: Eve Rodler, M.D., Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, Washington
Abstract #3071: Poster presentation session: Monday, June 7, 8 :00 am CT

Safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of TAK-701, a humanized anti-hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) monoclonal antibody, in patients with advance nonhematologic malignancies: first-in-human phase I dose-escalation study
Presenter: Suzanne Fields Jones, PharmD, The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Abstract #3081: Poster presentation session: Monday, June 7, 8 :00 am CT

Note drug MLN8708 is a proteasome inhibitor. Velcade is also a proteasome inhibitor. This is an example of the crossover principles I have been describing. MLN8327 is a kinase (AAK) inhibitor. I recently wrote articles about Gleevec and Nexavar, two established kinase inhibitors.

I don’t have a medical background, so this stuff can blow my mind! But I’m a fast learner. I live and breath this stuff in my new career as a medical writer. Hopefully my patient centered perspective will help you get a better handle on the many different cancer therapy trends and options emerging today.

I try and look at all of this from the point of view: “How does this help me or my fellow cancer patients and survivors?”

Feel good, keep smiling and stay hopeful! Researchers are making progress- Pat

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