SIXONE SOLUTIONS DEVELOPING CU TARGETED BREAST CANCER THERAPY
By inhibiting two proteins not currently targeted by conventional cancer treatments, CU’s platform could block the growth and migration of cancer cells with fewer side effects, and reduce tumor resistance to chemotherapy and radiation.
AURORA, Colo., November 21, 2013 – SixOne Solutions and the University of Colorado (CU) have completed an exclusive license agreement, allowing the company to develop new, targeted therapeutics for treating and preventing the spread of breast cancer with far fewer expected side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
A research team at the CU School of Medicine led by Heide Ford, Ph.D., and Rui Zhao, Ph.D., has identified two proteins, Six1 and Eya2, that play key roles in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Importantly, while these proteins are also active in normal embryonic development, they are inactive in most healthy adult tissue. As a result, the therapeutics developed by the Ford/Zhao group to inhibit Six1 and Eya2 are expected to have minimal effects on healthy cells, while specifically targeting cancer cells – this targeting means fewer or minimal side effects. Six1 and Eya2 are highly active in a majority of breast cancer tumors, including difficult-to-treat triple-negative tumors. These two proteins are also active in many other types of cancer, including ovarian, cervical and pancreatic cancer, gliomas, and Ewing’s Sarcoma; thus, the Six1/Eya2 inhibitors being commercialized by SixOne Solutions may be effective across a wide variety of cancers.
What’s more, it is anticipated that they will be able to be combined with existing chemotherapies due to their low expected toxicity to healthy cells. Use of combination therapies reduces the development of tumors that are resistant to treatment, and helps prevent relapse.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Currently, chemotherapy and radiation are the main methods of treatment, along with surgery. Chemotherapy, which affects healthy as well as cancerous cells, causes severe and sometimes fatal side effects. Immediate side effects of chemotherapy can include nausea, vomiting, hair loss and diarrhea, while long-term side effects can include infertility and even the development of a second cancer. Targeted drugs have been developed, but are only effective in patients with specific genetic mutations, typically 20 to 30 percent of breast cancer patients.
Ford, an associate professor of pharmacology, and Zhao, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, co-founded SixOne Solutions earlier this year to commercialize their research in this area.
“Drs. Ford and Zhao are working on a truly novel and exciting cancer therapy,” said David Poticha of the CU Technology Transfer Office. “The university is confident that their collaboration with Ginny Orndorff and SixOne creates a significant opportunity to advance this therapy into clinical development.”
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About the Technology Transfer Office and the University of Colorado:
The University of Colorado is a premier public research university with four campuses: the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Some 57,591 students are pursuing academic degrees at CU, and CU researchers attracted over $774M in research grants in FY2012-13. Academic prestige is marked by the university’s five Nobel laureates, eight MacArthur “genius” Fellows, 18 alumni astronauts and 19 Rhodes Scholars. For more information about the entire CU system, and to access campus resources, go to www.cu.edu.