WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A novel approach to treating lung and thyroid cancers is moving closer to clinical trials.
A $399,933 SBIR Phase I grant from the National Cancer Institute to KinaRx, a Purdue University-affiliated startup, will help to advance a novel platform aimed at producing more effective drugs to treat lung and thyroid cancers. The platform targets gene mutations that help cancers grow and expand within the body.
“Genetic and molecular characterization of cancer-driving kinase mutations has revolutionized the treatment of many types of cancer,” 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, which rapidly makes complex drug molecules using bioinformatics, multi-component compound synthesis and the understanding of disease biology.
The team has focused on developing novel RET inhibitors, which are compounds designed to target the various cancer cells at work in the body. First-generation RET inhibitors demonstrated about 30% overall response rate (ORR) and no complete regression of tumors. New-generation RET inhibitors in clinical development only showed complete regression of RET-driven tumors in a small subset of patients (2-14%). These poor complete regression rates call for more efficacious RET inhibitors, which are active against drug-resistant mutant RET kinases.
“This Phase I SBIR grant will facilitate several preclinical experiments that are required to advance the novel RET inhibitors into clinical trials,” said Sintim, who is a member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery.
KinaRx has licensed drug compounds through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization, which is now located in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus.