WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive blood cancer, is one of the most lethal cancers. More than 19,000 new cases are diagnosed a year, and more than 11,000 people a year die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.
A $1,999,998 SBIR Phase I/II grant from the National Cancer Institute to KinaRx LLC, a Purdue University-affiliated startup, will help fast-track to human trials a novel platform aimed at treating relapse for AML and other diseases.
“We are ready to take our technology to the next level and potentially help people who are dealing with aggressive and deadly diseases that offer few treatment options, particularly for relapse patients,” said Herman O. Sintim, the Drug Discovery Professor of Chemistry in Purdue’s Department of Chemistry.
KinaRx was founded by Sintim, who is its chief scientific officer, along with M. Javad Aman, Rena Lapidus, Ashkan Emadi, Frederick Holtsberg and Joe O’Neill.
The compounds under development by KinaRx were developed using Sintim’s platform that makes complex drug molecules rapidly using bioinformatics, multi-component compound synthesis and the understanding of disease biology.
KinaRx has licensed drug compounds through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization, which is now housed in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus.
“These compounds have shown promise in treating people who have a recurrence of AML and now we want to do further testing and move into clinical trials,” said Sintim, who is a member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery.
About 30 percent of AML patients have a mutation caused by a kinase called FLT3, which makes the leukemia more aggressive. Although a few FLT3 inhibitors have already been approved in the clinic, patients can relapse due to mutations in the FLT3 protein, which cause drug resistance. KinaRx is commercializing a series of new compounds that inhibit mutant FLT3 kinases, especially mutant versions that are resistant to current FDA-approved FLT3 inhibitors such as gilteritinib. These compounds were developed by researchers in Sintim’s lab at Purdue.