At the 2012 major cancer congress of the American Society for Hematology (ASH) held in December in Atlanta, USA, ROR was once again a central topic among researchers and representatives of the industry as a starting point for new drugs to combat certain currently incurable diseases.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, showed that ROR inhibition could become an important treatment for the severe form of cancer Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Along with Kancera’s own studies, this shows that substances that block ROR have the potential to combat both the most common chronic and the most common acute form of leukemia. Kancera and its co-founder, Professor Håkan Mellstedt of the Karolinska Institute, along with their research team, were behind two scientific studies that were presented at ASH: a study showing how patients who are expected to respond best to treatment with ROR inhibitors can be identified, and a study showing that antibodies and small molecules that target ROR have a similar impact on the cancer cells.
Kancera recently succeeded in developing further the properties of the company’s small molecular ROR inhibitors so that they demonstrate even greater efficacy when it comes to destroying cancer cells from leukemia patients who are no longer benefitting from the available drugs. This was achieved while at the same time Kancera’s compounds maintain, or increase, their efficacy at targeting the cancer itself compared with the body’s healthy cells. What remains to be achieved by Kancera is to increase the stability of the ROR inhibitors in the liver so that a sufficient quantity of active drug gets into the tumor. Kancera is continuing to invest in patent protection for the company’s future drugs targeting ROR, most recently by registering an international patent application (PCT/EP2013/051772) in January 2013 and through the acquisition of exclusive rights to a patent application concerning human monoclonal antibodies (WO 2012/076727).
Kancera has reported previously that the company’s PFKFB3 inhibitors slow down pancreatic cancer in animal models. Follow-up analysis of Kancera’s results shows that the level of inhibition of the PFKFB3 protein inside the cancer cell correlates well with the growth inhibition noted in both individual cancer cells and in a complete tumor. This further strengthens PFKFB3 as a target for the treatment of cancer. An international patent application (PCT/EP2012/076836) was registered in December 2012 with a view to maintaining opportunities for future strong patent protection for Kancera’s priority PFKFB3 inhibitors. However, Kancera intends to secure additional financing before further development of the PFKFB project is resumed.
Since October 16, when Kancera announced the company’s intention to modify its business model and focus on the ROR project, we have acted to strengthen the company’s financial position and increase its operational flexibility. Together with Humlegården Fastigheter AB, we have created the conditions for laboratory solutions within the Karolinska Science Park that will be affordable to small businesses and that provide technical capacity that is otherwise generally only available in big corporations. We have also taken steps towards reducing the organization in order to be able to focus cost-effectively on the ROR project.
Through the share issue effected in December 2012, which brought in SEK 9.3m before issue costs, we have also laid the foundations for an exciting year in 2013 in which we aim to deliver a drug candidate in the ROR project - a drug candidate that may make the difference in the care of a number of difficult to treat cancers.
CEO of Kancera
Thomas Olin, CEO