Amcure’s candidate for highly metastatic epithelial cancers is about to start clinical trials. The compound can shut down three oncological pathways simultaneously through a single molecular target.
Amcure is a spin-off from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, established in 2012. The company develops treatments for highly metastatic forms of cancer using peptide-based compounds targeting angiogenesis. It has just announced the start of PhaseI/Ib trials to test its leading candidate, AMC303, in patients with advanced metastatic epithelial cancers, such as pancreatic, head and neck, colorectal and lung cancer.
AMC303 is a short v6 peptide that targets CD44v6, a co-receptor involved in angiogenesis signaling via tyrosine kinase pathways. What makes this approach better than its predecessors is that the molecule is involved in three oncological pathways relevant for metastasis. The flip side to this multi-pronged effect, of course, is that the therapy is not very specific; indeed, this is a general problem with peptides in medicine.
The treatment will be aimed at patients for whom standard treatments have failed. The peptide drug has shown the ability to reduce both the primary tumor and the metastases in ex vivo and in vivo models. With a drug that can kill three birds with one stone in an otherwise empty field, Amcure might find a breakthrough in the treatment of highly metastatic forms of cancer.
While its approach seems unique, the company might find some competition coming from Roche’s Tecentriq (atezolizumab), the ‘first and only’ immunotherapy for metastatic lung cancer approved by the FDA. However, if Amcure’s candidate proves effective in the wide range of epithelial cancers the company’s testing for, the consequences could be huge.
Images by Molekuul_be /Shutterstock; Amcure