Australian biotech firm Bionomics has started a clinical trial of BNC105 in patients with renal cell carcinoma at three sites in the US.

Up to 12 sites and a total of 152 patients are likely to be involved in the trial.

The trial is hoped to determine whether BNC105 is effective in the treatment of progressive metastatic renal cell carcinoma, either in combination with or following Afinitor (everolimus) treatment in patients who have disease progression following treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as Sutent or Nexavar.

Deborah Rathjen, CEO and managing director of Bionomics, said that in addition to the potential clinical benefits of BNC105, the firm believes that renal cell cancer offers a strong market opportunity for BNC105 if successfully developed.

Worldwide sales of Sutent were $847m in 2008, while reported sales of Nexavar in 2008 were $677.8m. Sales projections for Afinitor, which gained marketing approval in the US and Europe in 2009 for the treatment of renal cancer, exceed $500m.