With EU funding, Kancera has for three years been developing drugs to treat the serious parasitic disease schistosomiasis, which kills around 280,000 people every year. These drug-like substances are owned by Kancera jointly with its EU partners for the treatment of parasitic diseases.
An incidental finding in this project is that Kancera has surprisingly identified two series of substances that effectively switch on epigenetic mechanisms (HDAC) capable of neutralizing leukemia in humans. Inhibitors of HDAC are already in clinical use in cancer therapy, but severe side effects of these drugs limit their use. Due to the side effects of these HDAC inhibitors, the industry is now seeking to develop more selective drugs. Kancera has recently shown that the company’s HDAC inhibitors have a high degree of selectivity within the HDAC family, which makes them interesting starting points for new drugs to treat cancer.
In February 2014, Kancera and international research teams involved in the project A-PARADDISE (Anti-Parasitic Drug Discovery in Epigenetics) will begin further development of drugs to treat parasitic diseases including malaria, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. In the next step, patent applications will be made for Kancera’s lead substances which selectively target human forms of HDAC.