Angiochem heralds preclinical promise with brain-penetrating cancer therapy

Angiochem pulled off the rare feat of getting an anticancer antibody through the brain's protective mesh in a preclinical study, and now the Canadian biotech is on the hunt for partners to take the next step.

In a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Angiochem's ANG4043, an antibody designed to treat HER-2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain, successfully crossed the blood-brain barrier (BBB) at concentrations high enough to kill tumors.

The barrier, a network of cells designed to screen blood for pollutants, has long bedeviled drug developers trying to get larger molecules to the brain. Angiochem's technology works by binding to LRP-1 receptors, which then shuttle its payload through the BBB--"a Trojan horse method of getting something into the brain," Chief Scientific Officer Jean Lachowicz said. The platform has already been clinically validated through studies on ANG1005, a Phase II treatment that uses the same technology to deliver paclitaxel, and Angiochem believes the preclinical antibody data sets the stage for human trials with a larger molecule.

Researchers have managed to get biologics across the BBB in past preclinical studies, but never with a technology that has come through in clinical trials, Lachowicz said. And other animal studies have struggled to get therapeutic concentrations into the brain, she said.

Now Angiochem, a 2012 Fierce 15 honoree, is taking a two-pronged approach to the future, talking to potential partners about taking ANG4043 into IND-enabling studies and eventual clinical development while keeping its ears open to license deals around the platform technology. The biotech's ability to shuttle antibodies across the BBB has applications outside of oncology, Lachowicz said, potentially ferrying treatments for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative ailments.

- read the release (PDF)
- get the research article (PDF)

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2012 Fierce 15 - Angiochem

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