March 11, 2015
Developing a drug to starve cancer cells
BY Scott Merrville
The first experimental drug to be produced by MD Anderson’s drug discovery and development institute will kill cancer cells in a new way — by depriving them of the fuel necessary for growth and survival.
Named after MD Anderson’s Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS) where it was developed, IACS-10759 blocks the conversion of nutrients into the energy that fuels cancer cells. The drug does this by blocking the function of mitochondria. Often called “powerhouses” of the cells, mitochondria generate the energy cells need to function. Certain cancer cells cannot survive if this mitochondrial function is blocked.
“Most cancer drugs target dividing cells,” says Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., IACS director. “With this new approach, we may hit both dividing and non-dividing cells that play a key role in tumor survival.”
The IACS scientists prepared and evaluated more than 800 compounds before finally arriving at IACS-10759, designing multiple attributes into the molecule to enable it to function effectively in patients.
IACS-10759 has potent activity against cultured human cancer cells and in mouse models of human cancer. Last year, mandatory preclinical safety studies of the drug began, the last step before seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration to take a drug into Phase I clinical trials.
Draetta expects the first-in-human Phase I trials to open in late 2015.
A team of IACS drug development experts with extensive industry experience identified and developed IACS-10759. They collaborate with the Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)/Myelodysplastic Syndromes Moon Shot, which will oversee the first clinical trial of the drug in AML patients.
Additional phase I trials for solid tumors and other blood cancers are also planned.
“We now have active collaborations across the institution, including lymphoma, melanoma and colorectal cancers,” Draetta says.
Read more about IACS-10759.