Advanced Proteome Therapeutics (CVE:APC) has discovered that two molecules from the first series of potential anti-cancer agents it is testing have shown "statistically significant retardation" of tumour growth in mice.
The drug development company recently prepared several molecules using its patent-pending technologies, representing the first of several series it is conceiving as potential anti-cancer agents.
Advanced Proteome is developing a potential three-in-one cancer treatment that acts as a targeted, combination and homogeneous therapy all in a single agent. The company modifies proteins to attach known therapeutics to specific sites, designed to boost the properties of the proteins targeted for the specific cancer cells and giving them additional therapeutic abilities.
The unique protein is used not just as a delivery vehicle to the tumour cells, but also as a scaffold on which to attach each anti-cancer entity to its own specific site on the protein surface -- key to efficient manufacturing and product development. The goal is to activate the immune system to attack and help rid the body of the tumour cells.
The company said that each of the molecules prepared in the first series has its own individual attributes for drug development. In the first round of tests conducted by APC and its collaborators, all members of the first series showed a "high affinity for specific cancer cells", APC said, with no obvious toxic effects on healthy cells.
The unmodified protein by itself also showed the ability to "retard" tumour growth and a conjugate of the protein prepared by the company was shown to concentrate in tumours.
Following on from these tests, the preliminary results of which were announced in December, the company said it has now discovered that two members of the first series have shown "statistically significant retardation" of tumour growth in mice and have a higher affinity than the unmodified protein toward specific cancer cells.
This suggests that APC's chemical modifications to the protein can be used to boost the protein's activity, which in unmodified form activates animal immune sytems to destroy tumour cells. The drug developer has selected these two members for further testing in animal models of cancer, it said.
APC is planning to select a lead member from at least three series of protein conjugates, in an effort to develop the most "effective and commercially attractive" candidate with the best mix of properties. Testing has now begun on the second series, with the third series of tests to begin shortly.
While animal testing is carried out, the company will at the same time seek corporate partners in the pharmaceutical industry for joint work or licensing deals, which would help advance its candidates toward clinical trials.
Site specific modification technology is regarded as key to avoiding heterogeneous mixtures that can compromise biological activity, complicate manufacturing and production processes, and give rise to unwanted toxicities.
The Vancouver-based company last year signed agreements to test its anti-cancer protein conjugates on a pre-clinical basis with the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Iowa.
Year-to-date, APC's stock has advanced 60%, closing on Tuesday at 32 cents on the TSX Venture Exchange.