Dublin, Ireland, November 23, 2017 – Inflection Biosciences Ltd, a private company developing innovative therapeutics for cancer, and RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), today announced a research collaboration that aims to understand mechanisms of resistance to major breast cancer therapies and examine potential new treatments of Inflection Biosciences for patients with a cancer that does not respond effectively to existing therapies.
The potential new treatments (dual mechanism PIM/PI3K inhibitors) are novel molecules that work by blocking two abnormal proteins that occur in breast cancer, known as PIM and PI3K.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Recent improvements in treatment and diagnosis mean that many more women now survive the disease. However, current treatments can have limited effect in some patients and where treatment does work, patients may relapse as treatment resistance emerges. There remains an on-going need for new treatment options for patients with breast cancer.
Pictured: Professor Bryan Hennessy, RCSI; Darren Cunningham, CEO Inflection Biosciences; Dr. Michael O'Neil, Director of Research and Development, Inflection Biosciences.
The research team at RCSI is led by Professor Bryan Hennessy, Senior Clinical Lecturer at RCSI, a Consultant Medical Oncologist, and Adjunct Professor in the Division of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Centre (MDACC). Professor Hennessy is also Clinical Lead at Cancer Trials Ireland.
Speaking at today’s announcement, Professor Hennessy said, “I am excited about exploring the potential use of these novel molecules in the treatment of cancer, especially breast cancer, given that they will target the abnormal proteins, PIM and PI3K, which play an important role in therapy-resistant forms of the disease. The early results have shown this treatment approach to be effective in breast cancer cells that have become resistant to standard of care treatments.”
Dr Michael O’Neill, Director of Research and Development at Inflection Biosciences added, “Our dual acting molecules are able to treat cancer cells by targeting both PIM and PI3K pathways. This makes our compound more effective than compounds which attack either cancer pathway alone. We are delighted to have Professor Hennessy and the team at RCSI involved in this important research and their expertise will be of great benefit as we continue to develop these important treatments.”
Director of Research and Innovation at RCSI, Professor Ray Stallings, welcomed the announcement saying, "RCSI is delighted to announce this collaboration with Inflection Biosciences. RCSI's research strategy has a strong focus on excellence in translational research for the benefit of patients and healthcare systems. This partnership exemplifies how collaboration between academia and industry can help improve human health through high quality, impactful scientific research."
The collaboration has been supported by an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher.
About PIM and PI3K in breast cancer
PIK3CA (which encodes the PI3K alpha isoform) is the most frequently mutated oncogene in breast cancer. The high prevalence of cancer-associated PI3K pathway alterations underpins the large number of treatments in development targeting this pathway. However, PI3K inhibitors have only shown clinical efficacy in a limited subset of breast cancer patients with intrinsic and acquired resistance posing a significant challenge. PIM kinase is elevated in triple negative breast cancer and mediates resistance to HER-2 therapies. Recent studies have shown that PIM kinase overexpression confers resistance to PI3K inhibitors in breast cancer cells. Whereas PI3K inhibitors primarily induce cell cycle arrest, leaving a reserve of tumour cells that may acquire or exhibit resistance, PIM suppression drives the cell cycle arrest induced by PI3K inhibition into apoptosis. Therefore, combined PI3K and PIM kinase inhibition represents a synergistic combination with therapeutic potential in breast cancer.
RCSI is ranked among the top 250 (top 2%) of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2018) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI is a signatory of the Athena SWAN Charter.
About Inflection Biosciences
Inflection Biosciences Ltd, based in Dublin and London, is developing small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of cancer. The company's pipeline of innovative cancer treatments was licensed from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). The pipeline comprises the IBL-300 series (PIM/PI3K/mTOR inhibitors) and IBL-202 (PIM/PI3K inhibitor) selected from a series of unique dual mechanism kinase inhibitors and the IBL-100 series (selective pan-PIM kinase inhibitors), currently in pre-clinical stages of development. Data generated to date suggests potential application in a range of treatment resistant solid tumours and haematological malignancies. Inflection Biosciences was named ‘Start-up Company of the Year’ at the 2014 Irish Pharma Awards. For more information please visit www.inflectionbio.com