During the fourth quarter 2015, the ROR project succeeded to develop a new series of compounds in the ROR project that can be maintained in an active concentration in the blood for 10 hours in mice. This can be compared with the approximately 2.5 hours shown by Kancera’s first drug candidate KAN0439834 in the same type of measurement. This progress now provides us with new opportunities to test the effect of ROR inhibitors in several preclinical models of severe human cancers.
Kancera’s evaluation of peptide sequences for vaccine development has shown that the selected ROR-peptides do not generate an immune response that corresponds to the effect achieved with Kancera’s small molecule inhibitors. Against this background, Kancera has now chosen to terminate the vaccine product development and bring back the vaccine project to academic research. Thus, Kancera will concentrate the ROR-project investments to the development of small molecule inhibitors.
During the fourth quarter 2015, in collaboration with Prof. Mia Phillipson, Uppsala University, Kancera has demonstrated that oral administration of the Fractalkine receptor antagonist KAN0440567 (also referred to as AZD8797) to mice, effectively blocks the function of the Fractalkine receptor. This is a first step in the ongoing studies to examine the effect of this substance against cancer of the pancreas in a preclinical model of the disease.
Further information on these results can be found in Kancera’s Interim Report for Q4, 2015, which is published today.
About the ROR project
ROR is a family of receptors, ROR1 and ROR2. The ROR receptors mediate signals for growth and survival. Originally ROR was linked to fetal development, but it is now known that they also contribute to cancer cell development and proliferation. Professor Håkan Mellstedt, Kancera´s co-founder and professor at the Karolinska Institute, and his colleagues have shown that Kancera´s ROR inhibitors have the ability to kill cells from tumors in pancreas and leukemia cells. Professor Mellstedt and his colleagues as well as independent researchers have shown that ROR is also active as a target in prostate, breast, skin and lung cancer.
Because ROR primarily generates a survival and growth signal to tumor cells but is inactive in healthy cells in adults, there are good prospects that a drug directed against ROR hit the tumor much harder than the surrounding healthy cells. Kancera and Professor Mellstedt have shown that inhibition of ROR leads to that cancer cells eliminate themselves by cellular suicide. Against this background, there are reasons to anticipate that a ROR-targeted drug is both safer and more effective than several chemotherapies currently used to treat cancer.
About the Fractalkine project
Fractalkine is an immune regulatory factor that sends signals via the CX3CR1 receptor, also called G-protein coupled receptor 13 (GPCR13). In the healthy individual, Fractalkine and its receptor regulate migration of immune cells from the blood capillary wall into areas where the immune system is needed. Animal studies show that Fractalkine and its receptor are not essential for survival and that important immune functions remain intact indicating that inhibition of the Fractalkine signaling by a drug probably will be tolerated without significant adverse effects. Fractalkine and its receptor have been linked to the growth and proliferation of pancreatic, breast and prostate cancer. Also, cancer cells that have the Fractalkine receptor on their surface migrate towards nerve ends that have Fractalkine on their surface. Thus, cancer cells are led to surround and apply pressure on nerves and thereby cancer pain may arise. Another proposed mechanism for how Fractalkine and its receptor affect the development of tumors is that they contribute to the transformation of the body's macrophages from being a threat against the cancer (the M1 form) to supporting the cancer (the M2 form). This mechanism is also suggested as a predictive factor for responsiveness to the new immuno-oncology drugs that act through PD-1 and PD-L1 such as nivolumab, pembrolizumab and pidilizumab. During 2014 and 2015 studies have been published demonstrating that the absence of Fractalkine in tumor cells is a significant marker for how successful the immuno-oncology treatment is expected to be (see e.g. the publication in Nature on November 27, 2014, Vol. 515, pp 563). In the light of these observations, there are good reasons to further study if inhibition of the Fractalkine signaling with KAN0440567 (AZD8797) has the potential to increase the proportion of patients responding to the new immuno-oncology drugs that act through PD-1 and PD-L1.
About Kancera AB
Kancera develops the basis for new therapeutics, starting with new treatment concepts and ending with the sale of a drug candidate to international pharmaceutical companies. Kancera is currently developing drugs for the treatment of leukemia and solid tumors, based on blocking survival signals in the cancer cell and on addressing cancer metabolism. Kancera’s operations are based in the Karolinska Institutet Science Park in Stockholm and the company employs around 15 people. Kancera shares are traded on NASDAQ First North. Remium Nordic AB is Kancera’s Certified Adviser. Professor Carl-Henrik Heldin and Professor Håkan Mellstedt are board members and Kancera´s scientific advisers.
For further information, please contact,
Thomas Olin, CEO: +46 (0) 735 20 40 01
Kancera AB (publ)
Karolinska Institutet Science Park, Banvaktsvägen 22
SE 171 48 Solna
Please visit the company website; https://www.kancera.com