Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a new twist on antibody-drug-conjugates (ADCs): a drug related to the plant poison thapsigargin, coupled to a peptide that binds to prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), which is not really prostate-specifi c, but instead is expressed on endothelial cells in the microenvironment of many solid tumors. Thapsigargin is a poison that inhibits SERCA, a calcium pump which is critical for cells to maintain their membrane potential. Untargeted, the drug is far too toxic to use medically. But the authors showed that by combining it with the PSMA targeting peptide, they were able to make a prodrug, G202, which achieved “substantial tumor regression against a panel of human cancer xenografts in vivo at doses that were minimally toxic to the host.” These results appeared in the June 28, 2012, issue of Science Translational Medicine. G202 is being developed by GenSpera Inc. The drug is currently in Phase I trials.
The ancient Greeks called the thapsia garganica plant "deadly carrot," because their camels would eat it and quickly die. The Roman emperor Nero mixed it with frankincense to treat bruises. Until the early 20th century it was used in a plaster to treat rheumatism—the side effects, however, were barely worth the cure…
C-level executives from eight biotechnology companies will discuss their plans to invent, develop, research, and market important new drugs, diagnostics, and delivery technologies at the New York Society of Security Analysts' 14th Annual Biotech and Specialty Pharma Conference on November 30, 2010. The companies' developments range from oncology to dermatology therapies.
After acquiring a patent portfolio based on 15 years of research with more than $15 million in research funding, San Antonio-based GenSpera Inc. has moved into Phase I testing with a cancer drug candidate that is derived from a poisonous Mediterranean plant, Thapsia garganica.
The active ingredient, thapsigargin, contained in GenSpera's cytotoxin has been well studied by researchers for its cell-killing ability. But GenSpera believes it is the first company to find a way to use the highly toxic properties of the plant-derived drug to specifically target tumors.
Sometimes having too many choices for something is not a good thing. Other times – as is the case for GenSpera (San Antonio) right now – having a lot of options is a very good thing.
The company recently acquired a patent application from the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) for technology relating to medical imaging. The technology incorporates derivatives of thapsigargin, the active ingredient in GenSpera's therapeutics program, coupled with its tumor-targeted peptides, to create cancer-specific imaging compounds.
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Even in this age of economic uncertainty, smart people are still developing new weapons against cancer, the second-most-common cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease. I sat down with one of those people recently: Craig Dionne, who headed up discovery research in biology at Cephalon (CEPH, news, msgs) for several years.
Dionne now leads a tiny biotech startup called Genspera (GNSZ, news, msgs), which is developing what he likes to call a "hand grenade" against cancer.
GenSpera Inc., a development stage cancer drug company, has received FDA approval to proceed with human trials on its investigational cancer drug G-202.
San Antonio-based GenSpera will proceed with a Phase I clinical study during the fourth quarter of 2009 at the Sidney Kimmel ComprehensiveCancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center in Madison.