Preclinical development begins for tumor therapeutic agents

Treatments targeted at metastatic tumors are urgently required in order to reduce soaring mortality rates, particularly for cancers such as pancreatic cancer that are both aggressive and often detected late, leading to a very poor 5% 5-year survival rate.

With this in mind, amcure, a spin-off of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT; Germany), is working on the development of tumor therapeutic agents that could reduce mortality rates, supported by EUR€5 million from investors.

amcure will be using the funds to develop candidate agents that have been identified by Veronique Orian-Rousseau and her team from KIT for the treatment of metastatic tumors. The candidate agents target CD44v6, an isoform of the surface molecule CD44, which plays a role in the signaling pathway of tumor growth. CD44 and its isoforms are increasingly being recognized as significant factors in the formation and spreading of metastases, and CD44v6 has been demonstrated to play a role in many different types of tumor.

The candidate agents bind to CD44v6, inhibiting both angiogenesis and the development of metastases, and can thus interfere with tumor growth without affecting other types of surrounding cell. “Data from animal tests reveal that our molecules do not only stop the growth of primary tumors, but may also prevent metastasis development and cause the regression of existing metastases,” reports Alexandra Matzke, Chief Scientific Officer of amcure.

Clinical trials are due to be conducted in the coming years in order to see if this improvement in animals can be translated into positive effects in humans. “If these observations will be confirmed by clinical trials with patients, amcure can lay the foundation for treating tumors much more effectively and with far fewer side effects,” emphasizes Harald Poth, Senior Investment Manager of LBBW Venture Capital.

Future development funds to enable this progression into preclinical and clinical trials are already in place, in the form of a consortium headed by LBBW Venture Capital, as well as funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“The consortium around LBBW Venture consists of experienced investors having extensive networks. We are happy to have convinced them of our development approach so that now the next steps in the preclinical and clinical stages can be financed,” comments Matthias Klaften, Chief Executive Officer of amcure.

Source: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology press release