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GEN News Highlights : Sep 12, 2011

Oncothyreon to Develop Sanford-Burnham Small Molecule Targeting Cancer

Company inks exclusive license to advance research institute’s sabutoclax into clinical trials.

Oncothyreon has obtained an exclusive license from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute to anticancer agent sabutoclax and related compounds. Sabutoclax is a pan-inhibitor of the Bcl-2 family of antiapoptotic proteins.

The drug, now in preclinical development, reportedly increases chemotherapy activity by inducing apoptosis in tumor cells. Oncothyreon believes that the drug may prove more effective than other compounds directed at these targets because it inhibits all Bcl-2 protein family members.

Sabutoclax was discovered as a result of research in the laboratories of Sanford-Burnham ‘s Maurizio Pellechia, Ph.D., and John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D.  In a study published in May in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used the combination of sabutoclax and ultrasound-targeted microbubble-destruction technology to deliver a viral gene therapy that expressed the gene mda-7/IL-24.

The combination inhibited prostate cancer growth in mice with functioning immune systems, researchers reported. The work was conducted by scientists at Sanford-Burnham as well as Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine and School of Medicine, and Washington University School of Medicine.