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A cancer drug that is related to the anthracyclines, the most widely used class of chemotherapy drugs.

What is Bisantrene?

Bisantrene is a cancer drug that is related to the anthracyclines, the most widely used class of chemotherapy drugs.

Bisantrene is a cancer chemotherapy drug that has shown excellent activity in several cancers, notably Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)

A comprehensive review of the science around Bisantrene was recently published in the International Journal of Cancer Research & Therapy. The article, titled: “The Rediscovery of Bisantrene: A Review of the Literature” is by Dr John Rothman, the Chief Scientist of Race Oncology. You can view the article online here.

Bisantrene is a small molecule cancer drug related to the 'anthracyclines', the most widely used class of cancer chemotherapy drugs. However, unlike the anthracyclines, Bisantrene has a greatly reduced risk of cardiotoxicity (heart damage).

This means Bisantrene may be used with patients who have reached their cardiotoxic limit with anthracyclines, or cannot tolerate anthracyclines due to existing heart conditions, age or other factors.

Bisantrene was tested in more than 40 phase II clinical trials during the 1980s and 1990s, before it was lost in a series of pharmaceutical mergers.

Before it was lost, Bisantrene demonstrated impressive activity in treating AML, so much so that it was approved for the treatment of AML in France in 1988.

"Bisantrene has been shown to have greatly reduced cardiotoxicity compared to anthracyclines and to be effective against some cancers that have relapsed after the patients have already received high levels of anthracyclines. This makes Bisantrene potentially well-suited as a second or third line treatment for patients who have reached their cardiotoxic limit of anthracyclines or whose cancer has become resistant to anthracycline treatment."

- Race Oncology COO Dr Daniel Tillett

Mode of Action

Bisantrene has been shown to be effective against certain cancers, but with greatly reduced cardiotoxicity.

Like other chemotherapy drugs, Bisantrene attacks proliferating (multiplying) cells such as cancer cells. In addition to this cytotoxic effect, Bisantrene has been shown to have immunologic and genomic effects.

In allogeneic transplant (animal) models, Bisantrene was found to activate macrophages (one type of immune cell) to attack and destroy tumour cells. Further, it binds to DNA at a site that displaces telomerase binding proteins, enabling tumour cells to lose their immortality and die (apoptosis).

These immune-stimulating and apoptotic mechanisms may make Bisantrene highly suitable for use in combination with new immunotherapeutic agents.



Race Oncology lists on the ASX (RAC) with the mission to rescue Bisantrene and return it to the clinic.


Bisantrene re-discovered, new patents filed and orphan drug designation obtained.


Bisantrene was approved for marketing in France for the treatment of AML. Lederle was acquired by Wyeth, which was then acquired by Pfizer. In the process, the French registration was withdrawn.


Tested in more than 40 published phase II clinical trials to assess its efficacy and safety in a wide range of cancers. The studies covered more than 2,000 treated patients and revealed that Bisantrene was shown to possess low cardiotoxicity potential and useful therapeutic efficacy in several cancers, notably AML.


Bisantrene discovered in the United States by US Pharmaceutical company Lederle (a division of American Cyanamid).

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