MMRF Biotech Investment Awards Provide Funding to Industry to Advance Myeloma Therapies
NORWALK, Conn. - January 6, 2011 - The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) today announced that it has awarded $1 million to each of three Boston-area biotech companies through its 2010 Biotech Investment Awards program: Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Epizyme, Inc. and Karyopharm Therapeutics, Inc. Since the inception of this MMRF program in 2006, $11 million has been committed to 11 biotech companies in multi-year, results-driven funding for the development of innovative treatments for patients with multiple myeloma.
The MMRF Biotech Investment Awards program has already seen impressive results with several new drugs advancing into clinical trials for patients including Astex's AT7519 and Intellikine's INK128 which are being studied through the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC), the MMRF's sister organization.
"Despite the amazing progress of the last decade, there remains a critical need for more effective treatments and new approaches to treat multiple myeloma as the survival rate for multiple myeloma remains one of the lowest of any cancer. These 2010 awards support our commitment to the next-generation of therapeutics for patients," said Louise M. Perkins, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of the MMRF.
The 2010 MMRF Biotech Investment Awards support funding for two companies involved in the emerging area of epigenetic-based drug development, Constellation and Epizyme. The critical importance of epigenetic targets in both the development and potential treatment of multiple myeloma has become increasingly clear in recent years. In addition, Karyopharm is developing drugs that target crucial machinery of the cell involved in the nuclear import and export of key tumor suppressor and growth regulatory proteins in the cell, activating the body's own systems for eliminating tumor cells.
"Constellation is committed to developing novel inhibitors of several epigenetic targets that play a role in multiple myeloma, and we are delighted to be working with the MMRF as we progress our compounds toward the clinic with the goal of providing new, safe and efficacious drugs to multiple myeloma patients," said Mark A. Goldsmith, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Constellation.
"This award from the MMRF provides Epizyme with another important source of funding to continue to advance the development of personalized therapies for patients with genetically defined cancers, including multiple myeloma," commented Robert J. Gould, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Epizyme.
"The MMRF's commitment to supporting Karyopharm will make a tremendous difference in advancing our innovative drugs towards clinical trials and in building continued hope for patients," said Michael G. Kauffman, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Karyopharm.
About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, soon after Kathy's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure. As the world's number-one private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised over $150 million since its inception to fund nearly 120 laboratories worldwide, including 60 new compounds and approaches in clinical trials and pre-clinical studies and has activated 30 clinical trials through its affiliate organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). As exceptional stewards of its donor's investments, the MMRF consistently surpasses its peers in fiscal responsibility. For more information about the MMRF, please visit www.multiplemyeloma.org.
About Constellation Pharmaceuticals
Constellation Pharmaceuticals is a leading biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics in the emerging field of epigenetics, a new field of science that focuses on chromatin modifiers and the regulation of gene expression. The Company's academic founders are thought leaders in epigenetics responsible for numerous seminal advances. Constellation Pharmaceuticals is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit the company's website at www.constellationpharma.com.
Epizyme is leading the discovery and development of small molecule histone methyltransferase (HMT) inhibitors, a new class of targeted therapeutics for the treatment of genetically-defined cancer patients based on breakthroughs in the field of epigenetics. Genetic alterations in the HMTs are strongly associated with the underlying causes of multiple human diseases, including cancer. Epizyme's hypothesis-driven approach represents the future of personalized therapeutics by creating better medicines for the right patients more quickly and at lower cost than traditional approaches. www.epizyme.com
Karyopharm is a privately held oncology company headquartered in Natick,Massachusetts, focused on the development of modulators of nuclear transport as novel therapies for cancer, inflammatory and other diseases. Drs. Sharon Shacham, Michael Kauffman, Ronald DePinho, and Giulio Draetta founded the company in 2009. The nuclear transport machinery plays an integral role in the regulation of many molecules involved in a broad spectrum of human and animal disease, and drug discovery has been enhanced with the recent determination of the 3-dimensional structure of the nuclear pore complex. Karyopharm is developing novel selective inhibitors of nuclear export (SINE) for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases and HIV. These SINEs act by forcing the nuclear localization of key tumor suppressor and growth regulatory proteins causing the selective death of cancer cells while sparing normal cells. The Karyopharm platform, utilizing rapid chemical optimization with integrated computational/in silico rational drug Design, has yielded multiple novel active small molecule SINEs, which have shown potent activity in animal models of cancer. Additional programs focused on other aspects of nuclear export, as well as nuclear import, have been initiated.