City round-up: Evgen Pharma; James Fisher

Evgen Pharma, the Cheshire-based clinical stage drug development company has announced a collaboration with the University of Michigan to investigate the potential anti-tumour effects of Evgen’s lead asset, SFX-01, in colorectal cancer.

Evgen is developing sulforaphane-based medicines for the treatment of cancer and other indications. Its collaboration is with Dr Grace Chen, of the University of Michigan.

SFX-01 is a patented composition of synthetic sulforaphane and alpha-cyclodextrin. Previous studies of the compound have shown in vivo and in vitro efficacy of the compound in a wide range of cancer cells, including breast cancer, glioblastoma and certain blood cancers.

The collaboration with the University of Michigan seeks to evaluate the in vivo effects of SFX-01 in models of colorectal cancer. The effects and mechanism of action of SFX-01 on organoid growth, morphology, stemness and inflammatory markers will also be investigated, using normal and malignant patient-derived organoids and tumour tissue. Initial results are expected at the end of 2023.

Colorectal cancer is considered to be the third most common form of cancer worldwide, with between 1.5-2 million annual diagnoses, and second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. There has also been an alarming global rise in early-onset colorectal cancer occurring in individuals under 50 years of age.

Treating colorectal cancers can be difficult and does not always lead to cure, especially in advanced stages. Therefore, there is a strong need to develop chemoprevention strategies as well as better treatment options.

Dr Huw Jones, Evgen CEO, said: “This new project is our 15th pre-clinical collaboration to date. Colorectal cancer is a relatively common disease and a cancer type we have not explored extensively.

“The work of Dr Chen’s group will gain valuable insights into the effects of SFX-01 in models of colorectal cancer. Building on our existing promising data on the mode of action, efficacy and tolerability of our lead asset, we continue to develop our core products to address the widest possible range of indications.”

Dr Chen, said: “We have seen the encouraging data of SFX-01 in various indications and want to understand more about the potential of Evgen’s sulforaphane-synthetising technology in colorectal cancer to help develop prevention strategies, especially in high risk patients and improved treatment options for patients with advanced colorectal cancer.”

Evgen’s core technology is Sulforadex, a method for synthesising and stabilising the naturally occurring compound sulforaphane and novel proprietary analogues based on sulforaphane. Sulforaphanes have shown potential benefits in oncology by reducing inflammation and blocking DNA mutation of cancer.

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Eoghan O’Lionaird

Barrow marine engineering group, James Fisher and Sons, has announced that Eoghan O’Lionaird intends to step down as chief executive once a successor for his position has been appointed.

A search for Eoghan’s replacement is in progress and he has agreed to stay in post until a smooth transition of responsibility to his successor has been effected.

Chair, Angus Cockburn, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Eoghan for his service and considerable contribution to James Fisher.

“The group has an experienced management team which is tackling the challenges faced by the business and the board believes that a solid business will emerge to build on the opportunities offered by the energy transition.

“The board remains committed to its strategy of driving recovery in revenue and profitability, exiting non-core businesses and reducing debt during 2022.”

Eoghan O’Lionaird said: “It has been a privilege to serve as CEO of James Fisher and to help steer the company through what was one of the most challenging periods in our history. I am proud of what we have achieved on setting course to become a purpose-led, values driven company, committed to serving all our stakeholders, and I’m confident that the group’s best days lie ahead.”

In March this year the group revealed it had endured a “challenging and disappointing year” with operating profits coming in at the bottom end of already-lowered expectations.

It said performance in the first two months of the year had been in line with management’s expectations.

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