Kancera has previously reported on the development of ROR inhibitors which selectively induce apoptosis in primary CLL cells (i.e. cells from chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients) and kill human pancreatic cancer cells. The latter effect has now been confirmed also in a more advanced 3-dimensional pancreatic tumor model. It is typically more challenging to achieve a cell-killing effect with anti-cancer drugs in this model compared to normal 2D cell cultures. In the study, the Kancera ROR inhibitor displayed superior efficacy compared to the standard treatment gemcitabine even when gemcitabine was given at very high doses.
Professor Löhr comments on the study: ”The effects are the best we have seen in this model system. Demonstrating an effect in the 3-dimensional tumor model increases the possibility of translating the effect also into the clinical setting. Pancreatic cancer is very difficult to treat and there is a tremendous medical need”.
About the ROR project
ROR consists of a family of proteins that gives cells signals for growth and survival, so-called receptors. Originally ROR was linked to fetus development, but now we know that they also play a role in the growth and spread of cancer cells. The ROR family consists of two receptors, ROR-1 and ROR-2. Due to the fact that ROR receptors mainly generate a survival and development signal in tumor cells, but are not active in healthy cells in adults, it is anticipated that a drug that targets ROR will attack a tumor much more forcefully than healthy tissue. Kancera’s co-founder Professor Håkan Mellstedt and other scientists have also reported that blocking ROR results in certain cancer cells eliminating themselves through cellular suicide. Based on this, there is reason to assume that a ROR-targeted drug is both safer and more effective than the unselective types of chemotherapy used to treat cancer today.