Institute for Applied Cancer Science
RESEARCH PLATFORM FOR
THE MOON SHOTS PROGRAM
The mission of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS) is to apply scientific knowledge of mechanisms driving tumor development and maintenance into the development of impactful small molecule cancer therapies. IACS is part of MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division, a unique group of clinicians, researchers and drug development experts working collaboratively to develop small molecule, biologic, and cell-based therapies.
Embedded within MD Anderson’s culture of innovative academic science and clinical excellence, the institute aligns drug discovery and development research directly with the world-class science and clinical care for which MD Anderson is known. The mission is to bring novel, more effective therapeutics to patients. Two small molecules discovered and developed by IACS, IACS-10759 and IPN-60090, already are in Phase I trials for various cancer types, with additional drugs expected to enter clinical testing in 2019.
The Institute’s synergistic approach relies on three key
- A highly experienced team of professional drug discovery and development scientists
- Real-time access to insights gained
by the best physician-scientists in the nation, who treat more than
120,000 cancer patients per year
informed, patient-oriented research programs that are focused on
delivering impactful results to patients
Therapeutics Discovery advances new drug candidate to clinical trial
This marks the fourth novel therapeutic brought from concept to clinical trial by the division, which was created to eliminate bottlenecks that traditionally impede drug development.
Drug targeting tumor metabolism enters clinical trial
MD Anderson’s Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS) initiated the first clinical study of a novel drug designed to starve cancer cells, IACS-10759. The study is enrolling patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is supported by a $3.5 million investment from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Therapy Acceleration Program®. Approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin clinical studies was based on compelling activity upon IACS-10759 treatment in multiple preclinical models of AML.
New bench-to-bedside cancer drug development partnership
MD Anderson and BridgeBio Pharma announce launch of Navire Pharma
Navire Pharma is aimed at developing novel small-molecule inhibitors of a tyrosine-protein phosphatase called SHP2 (also known as PTPN11) for genetically-driven and treatment-resistant cancer. The company is based around novel compounds discovered and developed by the cross-functional drug discovery team within IACS led by Philip Jones, Ph.D., executive director and head of drug discovery at IACS. The IACS and TRACTION platforms will continue to provide drug development and translational research as the Navire programs advance towards clinical testing.
Established in November 2011, IACS has been operational since January 2012. Since then, the Institute has built a state-of-the-art laboratory from the ground up, recruited a staff of talented scientists with proven track records in drug discovery and development, and developed a portfolio of projects that are being driven aggressively toward the clinic.
The first of these, IACS-10759, is a small-molecule inhibitor of oxidative phosphorylation, a vital metabolic process required for cancer cells’ growth and survival. IACS-10759 is currently in Phase I clinical trials for patients with acute myeloid leukemia and solid tumors, in partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
IPN-60090 is small-molecule inhibitor that blocks glutaminase, another important enzyme required for metabolic energy production in cancer cells. IPN-60090 is in Phase I clinical trials for patients with advanced solid tumors in collaboration with Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals. This marks the second small-molecule and fourth novel therapy advanced from concept to clinical trials by the Therapeutics Discovery division
The Institute has integrated capabilities in cancer biology, medicinal chemistry, in vitro and in vivo pharmacology, structural biology and computational chemistry, animal modeling, computational and systems biology, as well as translational medicine. Together with the research and clinical resources of the nation’s leading cancer hospital, we have the ability to take a program from a research hypothesis all the way to a clinical candidate supported by robust preclinical data, and into early phase clinical studies in well-defined patient populations.
IACS projects include drug discovery in the areas of cancer metabolism, epigenetics and signal transduction. These projects are weighed through a consideration of not only clinical impact and scientific merit but also technical feasibility. Specific factors considered in the selection criteria for each target include:
- Disease relevance — including the dependency of specific cancer cells for this protein
- Ease of therapeutic attack — especially the probability of finding a suitable molecule for proof-of-concept pharmacological studies in a timely manner
- Clinical need — emphasis on cancer subtypes where no therapy is currently available
The Institute is actively advancing multiple drug discovery programs aimed at delivering clinical candidates in a timely manner. These candidates are either wholly owned by MD Anderson or collaboratively owned through our partnered programs. In addition, we have a robust a pipeline of earlier stage programs. The nature of our work is collaborative: we work with MD Anderson investigators and have also successfully partnered with external pharmaceutical companies and foundations for some of our ongoing development programs. We will continue to forge partnerships with external parties so that, together, we can advance the most promising novel therapeutic candidates into the clinic to help patients.
TESARO, Inc., an oncology focused biopharmaceutical company, and IACS announced an exclusive collaboration to discover and develop small molecule product candidates against undisclosed immuno-oncology targets.
MD Anderson and Deerfield Management create Vescor LLC
Vescor LLC, a new company focused on discovery and development of autophagy targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment, has been formed by MD Anderson Cancer Center, Deerfield Management and two leading autophagy experts. In combination with Deerfield, the IACS Moon Shot® platform will provide drug discovery and development expertise, together with translational research focused at advancing autophagy therapeutics into trials in melanoma, lung and pancreatic cancers.