Purdue Spin-off Secures $400K for Novel Approach to Treating Lung & Thyroid Cancers & Seeks Biotech Partnerships

Jun 21, 2020 | Investor Watch, News, Oncology, Purdue, RET Inhibitors

Purdue Spin-off Secures $400K for Novel Approach to Treating Lung & Thyroid Cancers & Seeks Biotech Partnerships

Lung and thyroid cancers frequently have deadly consequences and most families can connect with the loss of a loved one due to these killers. Hence, its promising that yet another Purdue spin-off is bringing a novel approach to treating these conditions and the lead investigational product is moving closer to clinical trials. Funding always helps, and recently KinaRX received a $399,933 SBIR Phase I grant from the National Cancer Institute. The funding will help to advance the startups novel platform aimed at producing more effective drugs to treat lung and thyroid cancers. This advanced, Purdue-discovered platform targets gene mutations that help cancers grow and expand within the body. KinaRX is in the market as well to find partnerships and hence fall in TrialSite News’ Investor Watch.

TrialSite News offers a brief breakdown for our Investor Watch readers. 

What is KinaRX’s background?

Affiliated with Purdue University, the startup was launched to create a platform aimed at treating relapse patients for cancers and other diseases by taking a holistic approach of not only working to impede the main cause but also to stop other elements that help the disease thrive. Hence, they set about to develop a platform that is capable of making complex drug molecules from the combination of bioinformatics, multi-component compound synthesis and the understanding of disease biology. This platform was conceived in the lab of Herman O. Sintim, the Drug Discovery Professor of Chemistry in Purdue’s Department of Chemistry. 

Professor Sintim noted in 2019 that “Research has shown that many diseases are not driven by only one targeted.” Meaning, “Diseases are complex. Until you tackle the main drivers and the underlying issues, its going to be difficult to cure diseases. So what KinaRX is doing is developing drugs that hit not only the main disease drivers but also the collaborative players that allow the disease to progress.”

The company, based in Rockville, Maryland, was founded by Professor Sintim (Chief Scientific Officer), along with M. Javad Aman, Rena Lapidus, Ashkan Emadi, Frederick Holstberg and Joe O’Neill.

Professor Sintim’s background?

Professor Herman O. Sintim, a member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery earned his PhD from Oxford back in 2002 and went on to achieve a successful career, including the establishment of his own lab at Purdue.

What compounds are under development using KinaRX’s platform?

The team focuses on novel RET inhibitors (compounds designed to target various cancer cells at work in the body).  First-generation RET inhibitors demonstrated about 30% overall response rate (ORR) and no complete regression of tumors. New-generation RET inhibitors in clinical development only showed complete regression of RET-driven tumors in a small subset of patients  (2-14%). The company positions that the poor complete regression rates are essentially a call to action for the development of more efficacious RET inhibitors, which are active against drug-resistant mutant RET kinases.

What is the relationship with Purdue?

As the platform and associated intellectual property was developed at the Purdue lab, the university is the actual owner of the intellectual property. Hence, KinaRX licensed the drug compounds through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. This office is now located in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District next to the Purdue campus.

What will the Phase I SBIR grant funds be used for?

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Sintim reports that this money will be used to conduct a number of preclinical experiments necessary to progress the novel RET inhibitors into actual clinical trials.

Company Profile

KinaRX, a start-up biotechnology, focuses on development of novel kinase inhibitors for treatment of cancer with an emphasis on treatment of drug resistant tumors. The venture’s portfolio includes therapeutic candidates for acute myeloid leukemia, lung cancer and medullar thyroid cancer, as well as others.

Why is Purdue Notable in the world of IP spin-offs and startups?

According to IPWatch Institute, Purdue ranked third nationally in startup and in the top 20 for patents. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

Call to Action: The company is seeking biotech-related partners to continue testing and developing their technology. Those interested in partnering/investing can contact Professor Sintim directly at hsintim@purdue.edu.

Source: Purdue

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