Start-Up Previews (09/2010)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "Biotechs Target Cancer Metabolism," features profiles of Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals and Dynamix Pharmaceuticals. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: AlloCure, ArisGen, HistoSonics and NeuraviBiotechnology.
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Optimization of a lead drug candidate often takes a few years, as companies assess hundreds and sometimes thousands of compounds, seeking just one with the best overall pharmacological profile. By contrast, Dynamix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. says its structure-based discovery approach dubbed DynamixFit has let the firm select lead molecules with less than 100 compounds synthesized in under two years. Dynamix aims to apply its techniques on two main tracks: first, to discover drug candidates that intervene with the metabolism of cancer cells; and second, to selectively target specific cellular signaling pathways mediated by Type II kinase inhibitors.
Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals Inc. is saying little about its lead drug candidate, CPI-613, which entered its first Phase I/II human clinical trial in late 2008, but the company and its backers believe they are developing a potentially game-changing class of new molecules and technology for delivering them. Its Altered Energy Metabolism Directed platform specifically utilizes the difference in cancer cells’ metabolic appetite to facilitate selective delivery of a novel small molecule (CPI-613 being the first example) into the cells’ mitochondria. Similarly the company’s Emulsiphan leverages those same metabolic differences to deliver drugs specifically to the cancer cell cytoplasm.
Advanced Cancer Therapeutics LLC is developing candidates against two cancer-metabolism targets. The first is PFKFB3, an enzyme that is believed to be a key player in glucose metabolism. Preclinical results suggest the compound inhibits tumors’ ability to consume glucose for growth and metastasis. ACT is also advancing a set of potential inhibitors against another key metabolic target called choline kinase, which is responsible for generating phosphocholine, one of the most important enzymes associated with choline metabolism and cell proliferation.