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Post image for DelMar Pharmaceuticals works to solve the brain cancer treatment riddle

There are certain rare cancers that don’t seem as rare when almost everyone you talk to knows someone who has — or had — the disease. Such is the case with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and deadly form of human brain cancer.

“It may seem more prevalent than it is statistically because it affects people in the prime of life,” said Jeffrey Bacha, President & CEO of DelMar Pharmaceuticals, which has its research and clinical operations in Menlo Park. “And it’s one of those cancers that’s difficult to treat.”

Jeff and DelMar co-founder Dennis M. Brown, Ph.D., who serves as the biopharmaceutical company’s Chief Scientific Officer, view the product candidate they are investigating to treat GBM — the drug VAL-083 — as “starting on the good side of the 50 yard line,” or, in other words, “farther down the field.”

“We are not starting with discovery,” said Jeff. “We are starting with something that has been studied and can look at what tumor type it may or may not be useful in treating. That saves time and money.”

In more than 40 Phase 1 and 2 clinical studies sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, VAL-083 demonstrated safety and efficacy in treating a number of cancers including lung, brain, cervical, ovarian tumors and leukemia. VAL-083 is approved in China for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia and lung cancer and has received orphan drug designation in Europe and the U.S. for the treatment of gliomas.

Jeff and Dennis took different paths to their industry before meeting and deciding to collaborate at DelMar.

Dennis, who has lived in Menlo Park since 1979, came from New York to do a post doc at Stanford focusing on academic drug discovery and development. He started working with a neighbor, Ed Luck, and together they founded Matrix Pharmaceutical.

“It was all a bit serendipitous,” he said. “I’ve stayed in the science part of the business and let other people find the money and deal with the regulatory issues.”

Jeff studied bio-physics at UC San Diego with the intention of going to medical school. But after a stint in a lab, he found himself drawn to regulatory and corporate issues and pursued an MBA instead of medicine.

“Many of my family members have had cancer,” he said. “I was drawn to looking for the right cancer product, one with a unique approach. There is that opportunity of doing good.

“Phase I testing of VAL-083, patients had a median survival of 9.0 months versus. 4.4 months. We are treating patients who have failed other therapies [Avistan and Temodor]. That is different than looking at this drug in newly-diagosed patients.

“We anticipate reporting additional data from the Phase 2 expansion cohort at upcoming peer reviewed scientific meetings and are implementing our plan to advance VAL-083 into a Phase 2/3 registration-directed clinical program in refractory GBM.

“Based on promising results of grant-funded research, we are also preparing to expand the VAL-083 clinical research portfolio into non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We believe that the unique mechanism of action of VAL-083 provides a basis to address unmet medical needs in a range of cancers.

“It’s important to keep in mind that there’s a certain passion related to cancer. If we can help patients and extend lives, everything else follows.”

Photo of Jeffrey Bacha (left) and Dennis Brown by Irene Searles

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Visiting with Nancy Salmon and Praveen Madan as Kepler’s prepares to celebrate 60 years

Thumbnail image for Visiting with Nancy Salmon and Praveen Madan as Kepler’s prepares to celebrate 60 years

Kepler’s CEO Praveen Madan wants to make one thing clear: Book seller Nancy Salmon, who’s been with the store for 15 years, has the largest customer following of any staff. “I tell them what I like,” says Nancy. “But I also tell them what I don’t like!” Adds Praveen: “It’s all about building trust with the […]

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Effort to save the Foster’s Freeze building begins in Menlo Park

Thumbnail image for Effort to save the Foster’s Freeze building begins in Menlo Park

Ray Mueller, who is currently serving on the Menlo Park City Council, emails that he’s “reached out to the new Foster’s Freeze building owners, and they have agreed to work with the community and not tear down the building in the immediate future while a group of residents and myself search for a new viable […]

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Almost empty nester Diane Flynn helps lead other women to new options in mid-life

Thumbnail image for Almost empty nester Diane Flynn helps lead other women to new options in mid-life

After an early career in management consulting and electronic gaming, Menlo Park resident Diane Flynn decided to take a break to spend time at home with her three children. Like others in her situation, she did some volunteering but that didn’t necessarily keep her job skills up to date, especially in the rapidly changing area of […]

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Sunset leaves Menlo Park for new headquarters in Oakland’s Jack London Square

Thumbnail image for Sunset leaves Menlo Park for new headquarters in Oakland’s Jack London Square

Sunset will move its headquarters to Jack London Square in Oakland this December, Evelyn Webster, Executive Vice President, Time Inc. announced today. Sunset will relocate to Oakland from the Menlo Park campus that it has occupied since 1951. Where the publishing company would land has been a topic of much discussion since last December when the magazine’s owner, […]

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From an Atherton studio, comes Lauren & Gracia Jewelry, sold locally and nationally

Thumbnail image for From an Atherton studio, comes Lauren & Gracia Jewelry, sold locally and nationally

Lauren Roskoph (right in photo) and Gracia Mahan met about 15 years ago at a jewelry fabrication and casting class and quickly discovered that not only were their kids at the same school, their fathers had both been into woodworking and their mothers into art. “We had a lot of crossover,” said Gracia. A trip […]

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Erik and Nona Ybarra now operate side by side businesses at Menalto Corners in Menlo Park

Thumbnail image for Erik and Nona Ybarra now operate side by side businesses at Menalto Corners in Menlo Park

Menalto Corners is a small, local business community tucked away in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park that has become part of the fabric of the neighborhood. After a rough year, a wonderful thing has happened — something very much in keeping with the area’s family-friendly vibe: Menalto Corners now boasts a husband and wife […]

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Ken Kurose staging fundraising campaign for Nak’s Market in Menlo Park

Thumbnail image for Ken Kurose staging fundraising campaign for Nak’s Market in Menlo Park

Ken Kurose, the son of the Nak’s Market founding owners, Sam and Ikie, is staging a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to save — and potentially expand the scope of — the distinct market in downtown Menlo Park known for its Asian and Dutch products. Explains Ken on the fundraising page: “Our existing very small Menlo Park location has achieved consistent […]

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Bill Mince draws on his business experience to write book to help first-time managers achieve success

Thumbnail image for Bill Mince draws on his business experience to write book to help first-time managers achieve success

Ask Menlo Park resident Bill Mince about his professional career and how it led him to write the business advice book Up from the Crowd: Lessons to Help Managers Become Effective Leaders, and you quickly get the idea that he’s seen and experienced a lot. As both a public company executive as well as being on the management […]

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M-A grads Greg Kalin and Rich Branning take ClosetClicks to its next phase

Thumbnail image for M-A grads Greg Kalin and Rich Branning take ClosetClicks to its next phase

You’ve got to give M-A grads and friends-since-Hillview-School-days Greg Kalin (left in photo) and Rich Branning credit for looking the part. If you’re going to start a women’s fashion website — ClosetClicks — it’s best to look sharp. “We do try to present ourselves in a certain way,” acknowledged Greg. The duo, along with Rich’s younger brother, […]

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Getting up to date with Beth Philbin about her Heart on Your Wrist jewelry business

Thumbnail image for Getting up to date with Beth Philbin about her Heart on Your Wrist jewelry business

We heard that changes were afoot at Beth Philbin’s jewelry making location, Heart on Your Wrist. For one, the Menalto Corners/Willows neighborhood business now includes a retail shop. “We launched as an online store and used this space to make the jewelry,” said Beth. “But I always wanted a storefront. And even though we really didn’t have […]

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