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UTHSC News: Prostate Cancer Drug Candidate Developed at UTHSC Goes to First Clinical Trial


Researcher Ramesh Narayanan, PhD, knows the odds.

The deputy director of the Center for Cancer Research and the Muirhead Endowed Professor in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, knows that very few researchers are able to conceive and develop a drug candidate that makes it from the lab to clinical trials.

“If you take all the academic researchers in the United States, probably only an insignificant percent would have the luxury or the privilege of taking a drug all the way from concept to clinical trial,” he says.

Still, Dr. Narayanan and his collaborator, Duane Miller, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UTHSC, have defied the odds. Their drug candidate, a molecule designed as a treatment for advanced metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, is now in its first clinical trial.

“This is a major milestone in my career and life,” Dr. Narayanan says. “This is a very, very rare occurrence.”

Biopharmaceutical company Oncternal Therapeutics, Inc., holds the license for the drug candidate, an androgen (male hormone) receptor inhibitor dubbed ONCT-534, developed at UTHSC by Drs. Narayan and Miller. On October 5, the company announced the first patient had received ONCT-534. On October 26, Oncternal disclosed that the Food and Drug Administration granted fast-track designation for ONCT-534, which could potentially accelerate the clinical development process.

Read more at our UTHSC news site.