Cambridge, UK-based Acacia Pharma has initiated a Phase II clinical trial assessing the potential of APD209 in treating cachexia in patients with cancer.

Cachexia, which is characterised by the wasting away of muscle and fat tissues in the body, is considered to be a very serious condition and is estimated to be the direct cause of death in about 20% of advanced cancer patients, the firms says.

As there is no treatment for the condition, which affects around 50% of all cancer patients, Acacia is hoping that its candidate will help to address a serious unmet medical need as it is designed to “target specific problems experienced by cachectic patients”.

“Acacia’s market research indicates that oncologists and palliative care specialists consider it a major problem and seek a product to improve muscle mass and function, and to stimulate appetite. APD209 was therefore designed to meet this profile,” explained Dr Gabriel Fox, the company’s chief medical officer. But he could not divulge any further details to PharmaTimes regarding the product because of “commercial reasons”.

The company did, however, disclose that Professor Kenneth Fearon, a world authority on cachexia, will lead the Phase II study at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh. The drug will be assessed on a number of criteria in up to 16 patients and is expected to last for around nine months.