Lundbeck has signed a deal with fellow Danish firm TopoTarget to continue development of the former’s compound siramesine for the treatment of cancer.

Siramesine was originally developed by Lundbeck for the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system, notably anxiety, but has shown strong results in preclinical studies carried out by the Danish Cancer Society. Those studies have shown that the drug kills cancer cells “via a new and promising mechanism”, TopoTarget said and its chief executive Peter Buhl Jensen added that “we now wish to investigate siramesine in our discovery models to look into its Phase II development potential".

Specifically, the DCS studies showed that siramesine, which binds to a special sub-type of sigma receptor, induces caspase-independent apoptosis in cancer cells and is effective in pre-clinical cancer models, both as monotherapy and in combination with currently-marketed oncology drugs.

TopoTarget said that the successful completion of Phase II “may lead to yet another partner entering the collaboration with a view to further clinical and commercial development”, but for the moment, any future income will be evenly divided between the two Copenhagen-based firms. No financial details of the agreement were disclosed but TopoTarget said that its earnings guidance for 2007 has not been affected.