Innovation Pharma Modulates p53 in Ovarian Cancer Trial, Shares Up

The tumor suppressor protein p53 has been trumpeted as the "guardian angel gene" and the like due to its critical role in the body fighting cancer. Stats can very, but p53 mutations are pegged as culprits in at least half of all cancer cases, making it a top target of drug developers for decades now.

Unfortunately, the important protein has been considered largely undruggable and elusive to scientists trying to figure out how to restore it to healthy function. Innovation Pharmaceuticals (OTCQB:IPIX) has been developing its cancer drug Kevetrin for a decade, hoping it can succeed where all others have failed in restoring p53 to its role as a general in fighting tumors.

The company previously successfully completed a phase 1 trial at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and partner hospitals, showing the drug to be safe across various types of cancer. Data suggested the drug did particularly well against advanced ovarian cancer, setting the stage for a small, Phase 2a clinical trial that would take a closer look at activity within ovarian cancer patient's tumors.

On Wednesday, the Beverly, Massachusetts-based company said for the first time it has "direct evidence of molecular pathways modulation in tumors." In short, it's great news for the company and the industry to clinically validate Kevetrin's ability to affect p53 and the cell-signaling networking that regulates tumor growth to help prevent cancer. Confirming laboratory research in humans was the exact point of conducting the trial.

Innovation Pharma said it is working to develop Kevetrin for oral administration (e.g. a tablet or capsule), as a patient-friendly alternative to the typical method of intravenous dosing. The biopharma company believes it can leverage the short half-life of Kevetrin to facilitate treatment multiple times a day, effectively keeping a full-court press on the cancer, while delivering economic and quality of life benefits as well.

Fact is, that whether a pill or an IV, if IPIX can be successful in a larger, latter-stage trial and build the library on the mechanism of action of Kevetrin acting safely on p53, oncology and the company could be staring at a watershed moment that has been years in the making.

Shares of IPIX were up 10% at 77 cents with about 90 minutes left in the trading day. Shares were recently trading as high at $1.17 earlier in the month and look to be trying to make up some of the lost ground on the positive development.