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Revolutionary Auckland cancer drug begins clinical trial

Auckland, 22.08.22 – The Cancer Society has yet again renewed its commitment to funding valuable research right here in New Zealand, with a cancer drug developed in Auckland set to begin clinical trials during August.

New Zealand ranks with one of the world’s highest incidence rates for head and neck cancers, with around 500 to 550 new cases diagnosed each year. Worldwide about one million cases are detected annually.

Tarloxotinib is a revolutionary cancer drug designed to help patients with head and neck cancers combat resistance to conventional therapies caused by low oxygen levels (hypoxia) within regions of existing tumours. The drug releases an ‘inhibitor’ in areas of low oxygen, a substance to activate the treatment response and allow treatment to be effective.

Researchers are now recruiting patients for the Tarloxotinib/SBRT trial, which is a collaboration between the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC) who developed the drug, and Auckland City Hospital, where clinical trials will take place.

“This trial is both a valuable window of opportunity study and a stepping stone to a future therapeutic platform. It’s a great chance to build trans-disciplinary research collaborations across many areas”, says Dr Andrew Macann, Radiation Oncologist at Auckland City Hospital.

Tarloxotinib has proven to work well when combined with a cancer treatment called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), which delivers extremely precise, intense doses of radiation to cancer cells. Researchers aim to evaluate the safety of this combination in cancer patients prior to surgery, using MRI imaging to measure the level of oxygen in tumours, and comparing how well patients respond after the subsequent surgery.

“It is exciting that our research has demonstrated the therapeutic potential of combining Tarloxotinib with radiotherapy”, says Dr Adam Patterson, Associate Professor at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre.

Cancer Society NZ National CE Lucy Elwood agrees that this research is encouraging: “More New Zealanders will be diagnosed with cancer this year than ever before. These researchers are working tirelessly to ensure no one goes through cancer alone by continuously developing, testing and looking for better cancer treatments. We are proud of Cancer Society Auckland Northland’s contribution to innovative cancer research in New Zealand”.

This Daffodil Day, Friday 26 August, the Cancer Society is calling on the public to help them to invest in important research such as this in the face of increased demand for cancer support services in New Zealand. To donate now or find out more, visit




Dr Andrew Macann, Radiation Oncologist, Auckland City Hospital | 021 529 144

Wendy Billingsley, Communications Manager, Cancer Society of New Zealand: | 027 6666 552

About the Cancer Society of New Zealand

The Cancer Society of New Zealand is the country's leading organisation dedicated to reducing the incidence of cancer and ensuring the best cancer care for New Zealanders. We are committed to working with communities and decision makers by providing leadership and advocacy in cancer control, with core services in information and support, research and health promotion.