By Faith Ashmore, Benzinga
Oncotelic Therapeutics (OTCQB: OTLC) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Its primary focus is on developing innovative drugs for oncology and infectious disease and aging. OT-101 is the companys lead immuno-oncology drug candidate, showing promise in the treatment of deadly cancers as well as acute COVID-19. It is a first-in-class anti-TGF- RNA therapeutic that inhibits a protein called Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF-). TGF- is known to suppress the immune system, help cancer cells evade the immune system and increase the growth and spread of cancer cells.
OT-101 functions by interrupting the production of TGF-, thereby allowing the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. In preclinical trials, OT-101 demonstrated strong and selective expression of TGF- inhibition, leading to the activation of the immune system in cancer patients.
Phase 2 studies of OT-101 have shown promising results in treating pancreatic cancer, melanoma and glioblastoma, with strong efficacy and safety outcomes among treated patients. Pancreatic cancer, glioblastoma, melanoma and other cancers like colorectal cancer are all highly aggressive types of cancer that can be difficult to treat. Each year, thousands of people in the United States are diagnosed with these cancers. Experts predict 97,610 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2023, while pancreatic cancer is projected to affect 64,050 people. In the case of glioblastoma, it affects 12,000 to 15,000 people in the U.S. each year.
These markets are all significant in the world of immunotherapy. For example, the global market size for pancreatic cancer was $2.22 billion in 2022, and it is expected to be worth around $7.91 billion by 2032. Similarly, the global glioblastoma market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% from 2021 to 2028 to reach $4.2 billion by 2028.
Despite the large markets, these cancer types still need more therapeutic options, especially for advanced cases or when existing treatments don't provide adequate results. Pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma, in particular, are often considered underserved areas due to limited treatment options, while melanoma and colorectal cancer have seen progress in their treatments in recent years, but there is still a need for more effective therapies. The successes of ongoing research in oncology, such as OT-101 in pancreatic cancer, bring hope that more breakthrough treatments will be available in the future.
OT-101 was designed to improve existing cancer treatments, such as pembrolizumab marketed by Merck & Cos (NYSE: MRK) as Keytruda. Pembrolizumab is an immunotherapy used to treat various types of cancer, including lung cancer, melanoma and triple-negative breast cancer.
In addition to showing promising results in treating cancer patients, OT-101 has seen success in helping combat infectious diseases. Recent phase 2 trial results have shown that OT-101 has activity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and was safe to administer to patients with COVID-19, including severe and critical cases. This indicates that the drug has potential therapeutic benefits in treating acute COVID, as well as other respiratory viral infections. The potential benefits of OT-101 could be especially important for people suffering from long COVID. Long COVID, also known as post-COVID conditions, refers to a broad range of signs, symptoms and conditions that persist or develop after an individual has recovered from an acute COVID-19 infection. These symptoms can last for weeks, months or even years after the initial diagnosis of COVID-19.
Oncotelic is also advancing other drug candidates, including CA4P and Oxi4503. These drugs utilize different mechanisms of action to target cancer cells and disrupt their growth. This diversified pipeline strategy allows Oncotelic to explore multiple approaches to cancer treatment and increase the likelihood of success in addressing different types of cancer. The company seems to have a deep understanding of the field of oncology and is actively working to provide patients with better treatment options.
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