PRODUCT / TECHNOLOGY
Pancreatic cancer is more prevalent in North America and Europe, and in developed countries overall. Although the combined death rate for all cancers has declined in the past 10 years, the death rate for pancreatic cancer is the only one that continues to increase each year. Even after the conventional chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, cancer recurrence is high; resulting in a 5-year survival rate of less than 10%. Pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer with very poor prognosis. Only 10-15% of pancreatic cancers are caught in early stages and thus can be treated with conventional treatments. Neither an effective diagnostic test of pancreatic cancer nor specific biomarkers to pancreatic cancer exist to detect the existence of the disease in patients. Moreover, with only 4 FDA approved drugs specifically for pancreatic cancer, there is still an unmet need to develop effective therapies for this disease across all the patient segments.
Two of the main reasons for the high recurrence are: 1) therapeutic resistance and 2) incomplete killing of tumors due to poor tumor selectivity and poor cytotoxic efficiency of conventional therapies. Post-therapeutic resistance often results from development of resistance after repeated treatment sessions. In many cancers, pre-therapeutic resistance has been found to be associated with mutations of the KRAS gene, which are present in 95% of pancreatic cancers. The KRas protein is primarily involved in regulating cell division. To date KRas protein has not been druggable. For this reason, chemotherapy and some immunotherapies (e.g. anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies) are ineffective for patients with KRAS mutation because they come in with pre-existing resistance to therapy. Poor blood vessel network and the dense stroma of the tumor tissue that prevent chemotherapy drugs from reaching the tumor are also reasons why chemotherapy drugs are mostly ineffective in treating pancreatic cancers.
To address the unmet needs in pancreatic cancer treatment, the inventor and founder Dr. Nzola De Magalhães, developed novel multi-therapeutic anti-cancer compounds. These compounds elicit multiple anti-cancer effects by delivering combination therapy in one compound for more complete killing of tumor masses. The compounds provide orthogonal cytotoxic mechanisms to target different cell populations in heterogeneous tumor masses. More importantly, these compounds can elicit significant cell death in KRAS mutated, chemoresistant and immunotherapy resistant pancreatic cancers.
In addition to pancreatic cancer, the cytotoxic moieties of the compounds have documented anti-cancer effects in other cancers, thus extending the product pipeline of this technology to target other cancer markets as well.