Currently, around 30% of cancers have no curative treatment that can be offered at diagnosis. While therapies targeting abnormal proteins resulting from genetic mutations have proved successful, tumour evolution means that often response to these therapies is temporary.
A Spanish biotech company is taking a different approach to cancer therapy-targeting the phenotype rather than the genotype. They are developing a novel class of therapeutic agent-Therapeutic Molecular Clusters (TMCs). TMCs are small, extremely stable molecules with unique mechanisms of action, which cross the blood brain barrier and enter avascular spaces. The mechanism of action of these molecules is unique, and the physicochemical properties offer advantages over current therapies, which are often limited by tissue or tumour penetration.
The company has already developed a new drug that targets tumour cells generating high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), a very large group representing fully 30% of all cancers including some of the most urgent unmet needs in medicine today, such as pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma multiforme. There are no curative treatments for these conditions, and very large numbers of patients.
This drug is the first of the TMC family of entirely novel small molecules which cross the blood brain barrier where they act as cytotoxic agents and sensitizers to radiotherapy for treatment of brain cancers. The cellular mechanism of TMCs is novel, and these compounds have proved effective in mouse models of brain cancer and KRAS mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) while exhibiting a low level of toxicity to the host animal. The reason for this is that TMCs are only active in cells generating high levels of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Furthermore, TMCs are extremely stable at room temperature, and probably orally bioavailable, so practical for treatment of a large number of patients. The scientific team of the company has published multiple peer-reviewed academic publications relating to this technology (and more are pending).
Furthermore, radiotherapy is a component of at least 50% of curative treatment regimens and has remained essentially unchanged technically for the last two decades. A medication which sensitises cancer cells to the effects of radiation while protecting vital nearby structures will very rapidly become the standard of care for multiple cancers and will transform clinical practice globally. This new drug will probably act to increase the effect of radiotherapy specifically in tumour cells allowing lower radiation doses and preventing resistance of the cancer to radiotherapy treatment.
The team is also developing a second drug, which acts via a completely different mechanism and a pipeline of many more related compounds. Notably, several of their compounds are highly active against serious pathogens-bacterial and fungal. The scientists believe that the unique mechanisms of action combined with superior tissue penetrability offer an opportunity in the anti-infective space for these molecules in parallel with anti-cancer therapy.
The company is looking for partnership opportunities in the cancer space (chemo and radiotherapy) as well as the anti-infective field, in particular, systemic fungal infection. The company is Europe-based, but already has collaborations around the world. They would welcome collaboration to address the most serious unmet needs in adult and paediatric medicine. The company is interested in commercial agreements with technical assistance or research cooperation agreements.