Prof. Dr. Roger Phillips

Professor of Cancer Pharmacology
University of Huddersfield, UK

Professor Roger Phillips was appointed Professor of Cancer Pharmacology in July 2014.

Following a BSc in Marine Biology and Biochemistry (Joint Honours) from University College of North Wales, Bangor, Roger specialised in Cancer Pharmacology gaining his PhD in 1988 from the University of Bradford (under Profs John Double and Mike Bibby). After an initial postdoctoral position in Bradford, he moved to the School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles to work with Dr Neil Gibson in 1991. He returned to Bradford in 1993 and secured academic appointments as lecturer (1996 to 2001), Senior Lecturer (2001 to 2003) and Reader (2003 to 1014) in Cancer Pharmacology. In July 2014, Roger was appointed as Professor of Cancer Pharmacology at the University of Huddersfield. He was also appointed as Director of Research in the School of Applied Sciences in August 2015.

His research focuses on the preclinical and early clinical evaluation of novel anti-cancer drugs with a specific interest in the tumour microenvironment as a target for drug development. His research has had clinical impact through the development of EO9 as a therapeutic drug for the treatment of superficial bladder cancer. He has published extensively in internationally recognised journals, has successfully supervised over 20 PhD students and continues to present his work at national and international conferences. He is a committee member of the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Drug Development Committee and the Pharmacology and Molecular Mechanism Group. He is also an editorial board member for the British Journal of Pharmacology. 


The Preclinical and Clinical Development of Apaziquone (EO9) as a Locoregional Therapy for Non-muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer

The development of anti-cancer drugs is a difficult and challenging enterprise that induces excitement and disappointment in equal measure. This is particularly true in the case of Apaziquone (originally known as EO9) which was originally synthesised by Oostveen and Speckamp in the 1980’s at the University of Amsterdam. Following promising preclinical studies, EO9 underwent clinical evaluation in the 1990’s but no complete or partial responses were observed in phase II studies following intravenous administration. The reason for its failure was attributed to poor drug delivery to tumours caused by (i) rapid pharmacokinetic elimination and (ii) poor penetration through avascular tissue. Whilst these properties are clearly unsuitable systemically administered drugs, they are paradoxically ideal for loco-regional therapies where the aim is to have high levels of drug at the site of drug administration. Based on this understanding, a further clinical trial of EO9 against non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) was developed on the basis of (i) intravesical administration of EO9 into the bladder would circumvent the drug delivery problem (ii) retention within the bladder for one hour would increase the duration of drug exposure and (iii) any drug reaching the circulation would be rapidly eliminated thereby reducing the risk of systemic toxicity. Significant anticancer activity was reported in phase I and II clinical trials (67% complete response rate) and this presentation will conclude by describing the current clinical status of EO9 against NMIBC and discussing the implications of this work for drug discovery and locoregional therapies.