Abraxis Bioscience has bought the worldwide rights to a discovery platform designed to generate new therapeutics and identify new drug targets that alter the p53 tumour suppressor signalling pathway.
The technology was developed at the Buck Institute for Age Research (BIAR) in the US and uses a cell based assay approach to allow researchers to identify new drug candidates that remediate the signalling activities of the p53 gene in p53-dysfunctional cells.
The p53 gene has become known as 'the guardian of the genome' for the role that it plays in conserving genetic stability and has been shown to be functionally impaired in more than 60 per cent of human cancers.
The platform will allow Abraxis to study whether drug candidates can reactivate this vital signalling pathway which will lead to cell death in the p53-dysfunctional cancer cells while leaving healthy cells that express normal p53 unaffected.
"These proprietary cell-based assay systems are a natural fit for our proprietary nab (nanoparticle albumin bound) technology platform and our proprietary natural product and synthetic drug discovery efforts," said Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, CEO of Abraxis.
"In this new era of personalised medicine, we believe this program will generate a novel pipeline of drugs for Abraxis that provide the promise of cancer treatments with greater efficacy and fewer side effects."
In addition to the platform, the deal also includes the rights to all leading drug candidates that have been discovered at the BIAR using the technology.
These candidates include a novel immunotherapeutic / anticancer compound known as T9. This highly potent bi-functional molecule has shown to both kill cancer cells and activate the immune system to recognise cancer cells in a manner analogous to vaccination methods.
"This agreement is in line with the national trend toward facilitating the translation of basic research for clinical benefit," said Dr Dale Bredesen, CEO of the BIAR.
"Abraxis has an outstanding track record of recognising and developing such basic research. I can't think of a better group, or company, to develop these discoveries as potentially new therapeutics."
T9 will bolster the company's oncology pipeline, which includes: ABI-008 (nab-toetaxel) which is in Phase I/II development for the treatment of hormone refractory prostate cancer; ABI-009 (nab-rapamycin) an mTOR kinase inhibitor, which is currently awaiting IND (investigational new drug) approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a solid tumour therapy; and ABI-010 (nab-17AAG) a HSP90 inhibitor for the treatment of solid tumours which is in preclinical trials.
The company is also studying the use of Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) in a variety of oncology settings to broaden its use outside of its initial indication for the treatment of breast cancer.