The companies initially aim to develop selective inhibitors of the cancer quiescence target kinase family
Felicitex Therapeutics, a US developer of diagnostics and therapeutics for quiescent cancers, and Polish drug discovery company Selvita will collaborate to develop personalised therapeutics for pancreatic, colon, ovarian and lung cancers, as well as haematopoietic tumours.
The companies initially aim to develop selective inhibitors of the cancer quiescence target kinase family to generate multiple novel drug candidates against quiescent cancer cells (cells which are not dividing but are at arrest in the cell cycle). The ultimate aim of the joint project is to deliver clinical candidates for unmet oncology indications. Other targets related to cancer quiescence are planned for the future.
Under the terms of the collaboration Selvita will receive funding from Felicitex, which is based in Cambridge, MA, and a value share in joint projects, which may in future include milestone payments or a portion of revenues. Initially the research period will be 15 months with an option for Felicitex to extend it by another 12 months. Selvita will also receive royalties after the jointly discovered drugs have been approved.
Cancer cell quiescence is a major and as yet unaddressed mechanism of cancer resistance
It is currently accepted that populations of malignant cells are highly heterogeneous and whereas some of the cancer cells divide rapidly, others are quiescent. All currently available cancer chemotherapies target proliferating cancer cells. Quiescent cancer cells are invulnerable to these treatments because they are not dividing. Moreover, when cancer cells are under stress, such as from chemotherapy, anti-angiogenesis therapy, or radiation, cancer cells often go to 'sleep', or use a quiescent state as a niche to hide. After completion of treatment, these cells begin growing again and cause cancer recurrence.
Felicitex Therapeutics’ technology targets quiescent, non-responsive cancer cells first by making them vulnerable to conventional treatments, and second by preventing them from hiding in the quiescent state for indeterminate periods of time and thereby delaying or eliminating cancer recurrence.
'Cancer cell quiescence is a major and as yet unaddressed mechanism of cancer resistance,' said Maria Vilenchik, Chief Executive and Scientific Director of Felicitex Therapeutics. 'At Felicitex we strive to develop treatments for some of the deadliest and most resistant to therapy cancers, among which pancreatic cancer is particularly vicious. Our collaboration with Selvita creates the opportunity to identify novel therapeutic solutions and bring hope to cancer patients.'
The cooperation allows the companies to combine Felicitex’s experience in targeting cancer quiescence with Selvita’s significant know-how in cancer quiescence target kinases.