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Portage Biotech Starts Phase I Trial of Adenosine Pathway Inhibitors

NEW YORK – Portage Biotech on Monday said it began dosing patients with its adenosine 2A receptor antagonist PORT-6 in a Phase Ia trial in patients with solid tumors, including those with prostate, renal, and non-small cell lung cancer.

In the trial, investigators will evaluate the safety and efficacy of PORT-6 and assess biomarkers to select patients with high adenosine A2A expression. The company said that in the same trial it will also test its adenosine 2B receptor antagonist PORT-7 and explore biomarkers to select patients with high A2B expression. Research has shown that the adenosine signaling pathway is involved in tumor evasion of the immune system.

"The PORT-6 A2AR antagonist and PORT-7 A2BR antagonist trial should provide insight into understanding the therapeutic implications of targeting each pathway alone or in combination together at optimum biologic doses in multiple cancer types, something we have not been able to do before in this field," Lawrence Fong, an oncologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and a study investigator, said in a statement. "We look forward to evaluating the potential of Portage's adenosine antagonists in this clinical trial, which should also provide insights into potentially improving on current patient selection strategies by selecting patients whose tumors have a high level of adenosine expression."

Drugs that block the adenosine pathway have shown to be safe and have activity in numerous solid tumors. Based on preclinical studies, Westport, Connecticut-based Portage is expecting PORT-6 will be more potent, durable, and selective than other agents targeting this pathway.