Mersana Therapeutics Inc. has begun a Phase 1 trial of its anti-cancer drug candidate, designed to assess its safety and absorption in the body for patients with advanced solid tumors.
The drug target, called XMT-1107, is a therapy that works in part by staving the tumor by targeting the blood vessels that cancer cells need to survive and grow. The drug is delivered through the company’s Fleximer platform that employs a proprietary biodegradable polymer.
Cambridge-based Mersana recently announced an exclusive licensing agreement  for XMT-1107 with Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. for all indications, including cancer, on a worldwide basis, excluding Japan. Mersana received a milestone payment from Teva for the initiation of the Phase 1 trial.
Company officials say that the drug target has shown efficacy against a wide range of cancers in preclinical studies.
The primary objective of the study is to determine the maximum tolerated dose of XMT-1107, given as an intravenous infusion once every three weeks. Mersana officials said that other similar drug targets pursued by other companies had shown efficacy in Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials, but that serious side effects halted the drugs’ development. They say that XMT-1107 appears to have a better safety profile.