Beactica, the Swedish drug discovery company, announced it has been awarded 2 MSEK (around $240 000) by the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova) to advance its LSD1 programme
This programme aims to develop a novel class of compounds with the potential to radically improve the current treatment of glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumour with 40000 annual cases in the EU and the US.
Glioblastoma is a fast-growing type of cancer — causing substantial patient suffering and associated societal costs — with a large unmet medical need.
The compounds developed in Beactica’s current project regulate LSD1, a target protein that is shown to be relevant for the treatment of several common cancers.
Beactica’s novel and potent allosteric LSD1 modulators have a mechanism of action that is fundamentally different from the catalytic LSD1 inhibitors currently in clinical testing, giving unique biological efficacy in several cellular models.
Beactica’s results so far are focused on the difficult-to-treat glioblastoma, but there is a clear potential for the novel compounds with other, more common forms of cancer.
As announced earlier this year, Beactica is collaborating with Professor Bengt Westermark and colleagues at Uppsala University and SciLifeLab in Uppsala to study the effects of these compounds on cancer stem cells.
The funds awarded from Vinnova today will allow the LSD1 programme to progress to the point where Beactica can report data from in vivo proof-of-principle glioblastoma models.
Furthermore, the company will evaluate efficacy in other cancer forms that currently lack effective treatments.
“We are delighted to receive this recognition. Our unique approach has the potential to help cancer patients with an extremely poor prognosis,” said Dr Per Källblad, CEO of Beactica.
“This grant will help us advance discussions with leading pharmaceutical companies and our goal is to sign a licence agreement with a strong partner that can stake out a clinical path for this potential first-in-class therapeutic.”
LSD1 has dual functions as an epigenetic eraser removing histone methyl marks and as a scaffolding protein in suppressor and promoter complexes, both affecting gene transcription.
Non-toxic levels of Beactica’s allosteric modulators lead to significant LSD1 knockdown, indicating potential for a broad oncology scope. The compounds show full in vitro efficacy in a panel of more than 40 diverse cancer cell lines and exhibit a unique sensitivity profile that is distinctly different from more than 300 tested diverse reference compounds.
They also show efficacy in sensitive and resistant glioblastoma-initiating stem cell clones while results with astrocytes indicate a therapeutic window.