The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute has awarded Tucson-based NuvOx Pharma a grant of up to $3 million to advance trials of its drug candidate to treat an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The grant will fund a Phase II clinical trial for the investigational drug NVX-108, to help treat glioblastoma multiforme by reversing hypoxia, a low-oxygen condition, in tumors to make them more vulnerable to radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

In a Phase Ib/II clinical trial of NVX-108 in Australia, the drug showed safety and reversed tumor hypoxia, while patients in the study have survived longer than a historical control group.

The grant is the third in a series of Small Business Innovation and Research grants from the NCI to NuvOx and is specifically designed to matching funds from investors and third-party strategic partners. The most recent award grants $1 million this year and recommends $2 million over the following two years, subject to the availability of funds and satisfactory progress of the project.