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12:00 AM
 | 
Nov 13, 2006
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

A cancer biologist's pipeline

Ziopharm Oncology Inc.'s deal last week to acquire the chemotherapeutic product indibulin from Baxter International Inc. is an example of how the company is using insights from molecular and cancer biology to identify in-licensing opportunities. Indibulin, re-named ZIO-301, is similar to taxanes but may have fewer side effects.

Like many NRDOs, ZIOP's pipeline strategy is to choose either compounds that have known efficacy in humans but come with safety limitations, or novel compounds against validated targets. Chairman and CEO Jon Lewis told BioCentury the company's decisions are based on its deep understanding of cancer biology.

According to Lewis, ZIOP (New York, N.Y.) pursued ZIO-301 because of its biological properties. Specifically, while ZIO-301 and taxane chemotherapeutics both target tubulin, they are chemically unrelated and bind tubulin at different locations.

"ZIO-301 destabilizes tubulin, while taxanes stabilize tubulin. But as far as cancer cells are concerned, the net result is similar: they can no longer divide," Lewis said. "We don't know...

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