The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Moleculin actively sponsors ongoing research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. MD Anderson is the largest cancer research center in the world and one of the country’s largest recipients of NIH medical research grants.
Dr. Waldemar Priebe, a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discovered the molecules that form the basis for our lead drug candidates. MD Anderson has granted Moleculin royalty-bearing, worldwide, exclusive licenses for the patent and technology rights to all of Moleculin’s drug technologies and continues to collaborate with the Company to translate research discoveries into clinical therapies.
Ongoing research includes:
With respect to our WP1066 Portfolio, we collaborated with a clinician at MD Anderson who submitted an IND for WP1066 treatment of brain tumors to the FDA. In December 2017, the FDA allowed this application for a Phase I trial of WP1066 in patients with recurrent malignant glioma and brain metastasis from melanoma, to go into effect. This trial opened for recruitment in July 2018 and has begun treating patients with initial results showing bioavailability of the drug in the patients. Investigators at MD Anderson have now dosed the 3rd cohort in a dose-escalation Phase 1 clinical trial for the treatment of brain tumors.
This Phase I trial with WP1066 drug is mainly funded by $2 million in private grant funding at MD Anderson which is in addition to two Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) peer reviewed grants awarded by the National Cancer Institute. We believe the rigorous peer-review process applied to SPORE grant applications represents an important additional measure of independent assessment and validation of the research connected with our approach to using WP1066 as an inhibitor of STAT3 for the treatment of cancer.
WP1066 is a potent inhibitor of p- STAT3 and our ability to get WP1066 into patients’ bloodstreams suggests we could have a new way to combat AML, in addition to Annamycin. In collaboration with Dr. Jorge Cortes of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Professor Waldemar Priebe, our drug’s inventor, has now been able to demonstrate activity of WP1066 against AML cell lines in vitro. So, the data now supports a move to get WP1066 into clinical studies for the treatment of AML.
In February 2018, we announced that, pursuant to our continued collaboration with MD Anderson we had developed and licensed what we believe, based on pre-clinical testing, may be a potential breakthrough – WP1732, a new molecule in the WP1066 portfolio – in our effort to develop a new cancer treatment that selectively kills highly resistant tumors. We believe this new discovery could improve our ability to treat a broader range of the most difficult cancers, and especially pancreatic cancer. Specifically, we have preclinical evidence to suggest this new molecule is capable of controlling a process known as ‘ubiquitination’ to block the activated form of STAT3, an important oncogenic transcription factor.