A new approach to drugging a difficult cancer target

Phys.org | March 15, 2019

One of the most common cancer-promoting genes, known as Myc, is also one of the most difficult to target with drugs. Scientists have long tried to develop drugs that block the Myc protein, but so far their efforts have not been successful. Now, using an alternative strategy, MIT researchers have discovered a compound that can reduce Myc activity by tying up the protein that is Myc's usual binding partner, leaving Myc partnerless and unable to perform its usual functions. The research team, led by Angela Koehler, an assistant professor of biological engineering and a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, found that the compound they developed could suppress tumor growth in mice with certain types of cancer. The compound has been licensed by an MIT spinout that is now seeking to develop more powerful versions that could potentially be tested in human patients.

Spotlight

Our understanding of cancer cell biology has progressed enormously since Hanahan and Weinberg published their landmark paper describing six hallmarks of cancer in 20001. Since this time, breakthroughs in areas such as immune modulation and the tumor microenvironment have led to these hallmarks being revised and updated – not once, but twice with the most recent review identifying seven

Spotlight

Our understanding of cancer cell biology has progressed enormously since Hanahan and Weinberg published their landmark paper describing six hallmarks of cancer in 20001. Since this time, breakthroughs in areas such as immune modulation and the tumor microenvironment have led to these hallmarks being revised and updated – not once, but twice with the most recent review identifying seven

Related News

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

X-Therma Closes Oversubscribed $13M Series A Financing Led by LOREA AG

X-Therma Inc. | December 23, 2021

X-Therma Inc., a biotechnology company developing breakthrough technology for regenerative medicine and organ preservation - has closed an oversubscribed $13M Series A funding round. The financing is led by LOREA AG, an entrepreneur-operated investment firm, with participation from Zen11 Holdings, Graphene Ventures, VU Venture Partners, 2b AHEAD Ventures, Methuselah Foundation, Catalytic Impact Foundation, along with notable return angel investors. X-Therma’s technology, a nontoxic biopreservation platform enabled by biomimetic peptoid, is transforming global accessibility to organ transplantation, as well as enabling “off-the-shelf” cell and gene therapy products and engineered tissues by providing safe & effective chemically defined cryopreservation that is DMSO-, serum-, and protein-free. More and Better Organ Transplants “We’re excited about the transformative impact of X-Therma’s technology and potential to better meet society’s demands of safely and successfully transplanting organs across the globe,” says Dr. Christoph Swarovski, owner and founder of LOREA AG. “Our conviction in this technology was inspired by the world’s dire need of a better solution for organ transport and we are fortunate to help X-Therma bring its vision to fruition.” X-Therma has made a quantum leap in demonstrating a significant extension of organ shelf-life from a few hours to a few days in collaboration with world-leading surgeon, Dr. Gerald Brandacher at Johns Hopkins University. Less than 10% of the worldwide demand for transplantable organs is being met. Despite many improvements in surgical techniques and immunosuppression, innovations to extend the time window for safe and reliable organ preservation have, until now, fallen short. X-Therma’s turn-key solution XT-ViVo® and TimeSeal® in organ preservation removes this time constraint bottleneck without changing the peri-transplant workflow. “Most organs are transported in a cooler filled with ice at 4°C. This provides very limited time to deliver organs to patients before they perish or to provide accurate matching. Our chemistry encodes specific protein-like functions into a synthetic molecule to shape ice crystals and prevent further growth into a detrimental size. This fundamentally enables us to safely store organs at sub-zero temperature, which improves transplantation from both organ accessibility and quality perspectives with extended time.” Dr. Mark Kline, CTO & Co-founder of X-Therma “Off-the-Shelf” Regenerative Medicine Currently, many regenerative medicine companies suffer significant logistical barriers to scale up and from the proteomic and epigenetic changes induced by DMSO, decreasing therapy efficacy. Cryopreservatives used today are toxic to cells which can lead to cell damage, reduced product yields, and inefficiencies in production. X-Therma’s flagship product XT-Thrive®, a DMSO-, Serum-, Protein-free and chemically defined cryopreservation solution directly plugs into the current CMC workflow, resolves current bottlenecks in the cell manufacturing process, and enables “off-the-shelf" living medicines, and now is receiving hyper-growth customer demand. “Founded with the mission to enable global organ banking, our platform technology has expanded to all living medicines. Biopreservation is crucial in the evolving regenerative medicine market. It underlies the sourcing of cellular material, manufacture, storage, and delivery of final products,” says Dr. Xiaoxi Wei, CEO & Co-Founder of X-Therma. “Since the onset of the pandemic, the demand for advanced biopharma cold chain solutions has become extremely hot. COVID vaccines have accelerated this growth and exposed cold-chain weaknesses. From day one, our vision has been focused on the heavy lifting of fundamental scientific breakthroughs to solve the soon-to-be bottlenecks still in existence due to a lack of innovation. Our technology supports cell and gene therapy CMC by greatly improving the critical cell preservation process that can make-or-break the delivery of a successful medicine.” With this new round of funding, the company plans to scale commercialization of XT-Thrive® to meet customer demand for cGMP-grade cell preservation products aimed at Cell and Gene Therapies and tissue engineering users in chemistry, manufacturing, and control processes. Moreover, through its continued partnership with Johns Hopkins University, X-Therma will expand collaboration efforts worldwide and accelerate the regulatory process for organ preservation. X-Therma will also continue to expand its multi-disciplinary team, filling positions remotely in its San Francisco Bay Area headquarters and Austria subsidiary. About X-Therma Inc. X-Therma is headquartered in Richmond, part of the San Francisco Bay Area, with research centers in Richmond and Berkeley, and now has expanded to Europe in Austria. X-Therma pioneers ground-breaking cold chain technology via a convergent biopreservation platform, to advance Regenerative Medicine and make available safe and on-demand organs, engineered tissues, cell & gene therapies, vaccines, and beyond to patients in need. X-Therma’s technology could be a paradigm shift that makes worldwide organ sharing possible and eliminates organ waiting lists across the globe. X-Therma has been a selected Industrial User at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and received over $10M contracts and grant support from the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Read More

INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

eTheRNA Announces Research Agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to access mRNA technologies

eTheRNA | February 04, 2022

eTheRNA immunotherapies NV ("eTheRNA") is pleased to announce the start of a strategic partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany with the signing of a Research Agreement. The partnership will investigate the application of eTheRNA's proprietary mRNA design expertise and LNP-delivery platforms to disease areas selected by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The ongoing pandemic has underlined the capability for mRNA vaccines as a new therapeutic modality. eTheRNA and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany both recognise the potential for using targeted mRNA therapeutics in an expanded range of diseases. With this collaboration, eTheRNA and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will assess the feasibility of using eTheRNA's mRNA and LNP technologies to develop therapeutic vaccination approaches in models of disease. If successful, mRNAs encoding antigens nominated by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and directly relevant for human diseases will then be designed and evaluated preclinically. "We are extremely pleased to sign this partnership agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading German science and technology company. As two companies committed to innovation and creating patient focused solutions, we are excited about the many advantages such a partnership can offer to improve patient care and address a significant market need". Steven Powell, eTheRNA CEO About eTheRNA immunotherapies eTheRNA immunotherapies NV is developing immunotherapy and vaccine products for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease from its mRNA chemistry, antigen identification, lipid chemistry and delivery and process engineering platforms. The company is headquartered in Belgium and was established in 2013. Its founding shareholders include Progress Pharma and VUB. eTheRNA is supported by an international group of specialised investors; BNP Fortis Private Equity, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Funds, Everjoy Fortune PTE. LTD, Grand Decade Development Limited, Fund+, LSP, Novalis Lifesciences, Omega Funds, PMV and Ying Zhou Enterprise Management Company Limited who share the Company's ambition to build a world-leading company in the RNA field. To date, the Company has raised €63 million of venture funding.

Read More

TFF Pharmaceuticals and Felix Biotechnology Sign Letter of Intent for a Collaboration, Development and License Agreement

Felix Biotechnology, Inc. | November 06, 2020

TFF Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: TFFP), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative drug products based on its patented Thin Film Freezing (TFF) technology platform, and Felix Biotechnology, Inc., a clinical stage, biotherapeutic-based antibiotic development company, today jointly announce that both companies have entered into a letter of intent (LOI) which reflects the parties’ non-binding agreement in principle to negotiate and enter into a Collaboration, Development and License Agreement (CDLA). Under this proposed CDLA agreement, Felix Biotechnology would obtain a worldwide license to TFF Pharmaceuticals’ Thin Film Freezing technology to develop and manufacture dry powder formulations of a novel, bacteriophage-based biotherapeutics for inhalation delivery directly to the lungs of patients. Under the terms of the proposed CDLA and in exchange for the license to the TFF technology, Felix would agree to pay TFF Pharmaceuticals an upfront payment, development milestones, commercial milestones and royalties on net sales of the Felix biotherapeutics. A definitive CDLA is subject to the mutual agreement of the parties and a number of conditions, including Felix Biotechnology’s successful completion of a Series A financing.

Read More