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NuCana Initiates Dosing in Phase I Study for Solid Tumors

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NuCana plc (NCNA - Free Report) announced that it has dosed the first patient in the phase I study on its pipeline candidate, NUC-7738, which is being developed for the treatment of patients with advanced solid tumors. This early-stage study will enroll around 61 patients with advanced solid tumors.

NUC-7738 is a ProTide based on a novel nucleoside analog being developed for the given indication. The candidate is the third ProTide in NuCana’s portfolio to enter clinical studies. NUC-7738 is a ProTide transformation of cordycepin, which demonstrated potent anti-cancer activity in several preclinical studies.

Notably, the ProTide technology is a prodrug approach used in molecular biology and drug design.

Shares of NuCana have declined 30.4% so far this year against the industry’s increase of 0.6%.

Apart from NUC-7738, NuCana has Acelarin and NUC-3373 in its portfolio based on the ProTide technology.

Acelarin is the most advanced candidate in NuCana’s portfolio. It is a ProTide transformation of Eli Lilly’s (LLY - Free Report) Gemzar (gemcitabine).

Last month, the FDA granted an orphan drug designation to Acelarin for the treatment of patients with biliary tract cancer. The phase Ib study evaluated Acelarin in combination with chemotherapy drug cisplatin compared to the combination of Eli Lilly’s Gemzar plus cisplatin, which is the current standard- of-care treatment. NuCana plans to begin a global phase III study later in 2019 on the Acelarin combo as a front-line treatment for patients with advanced biliary tract cancer.

Acelarin is also being evaluated in a phase II study for treating patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. The company plans to report interim results from the study later in 2019. The candidate is also being evaluated in a phase III study for pancreatic cancer.

Meanwhile, NUC-3373 is NuCana’s second ProTide, currently under clinical development for treating multiple cancer indications. The candidate is being evaluated in a phase I study for advanced solid tumors and a phase Ib study for advanced colorectal cancer.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

NuCana currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Merus N.V. (MRUS - Free Report) and Repligen Corporation (RGEN - Free Report) , both sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Merus’ loss estimates have narrowed 24.6% for 2019 and 24% for 2020 over the past 60 days. The stock has rallied 10.3% year to date.

Repligen’s earnings estimates have been revised 3.3% upward for 2019 and 1.8% for 2020 over the past 60 days. The stock has surged 65.4% year to date.

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