UK biotechnology company, Antisoma, today said it has scored an orphan drug designation for its kidney cancer drug, code-named AS1411, in the USA – entitling it to seven years’ marketing exclusivity should it win the green light of approval. Shares in the company rose marginally on the London Stock Exchange this morning as investors responded to the positive news.

AS1411 is an aptamer drug that binds to the protein nucleolin, which is found on the surface of cancer cells, and is internalised. It has been shown to kill tumour cells in a range of models, and has also demonstrated anticancer activity in an early-stage human study.

AS1411 has already been granted orphan drug status in the USA as a treatment for pancreatic cancer.