Preclinical pancreatic cancer partnership

Relationship targets use of pipeline drug and AI platform

November 25, 2020
Ilene Schneider

DALLAS—While there have been recent advances in the use of targeted and biomarker-based therapies in cancer, pancreatic cancer has not experienced a significant improvement in patient outcomes. The overall five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer across all stages remains at only 10 percent in the United States and 8.2 percent globally, and pancreatic cancer is expected to become the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. this year, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Lantern Pharma, a clinical-stage biopharma company using its proprietary RADR artificial intelligence (AI) platform to improve drug discovery and development and identify patients who will benefit from its targeted oncology therapeutics, entered into a collaboration and research agreement with Philadelphia-based Fox Chase Cancer Center. The collaboration, which is in the preclinical stage, will focus on advancing the targeted use of one of Lantern’s pipeline drugs, LP-184, in molecularly defined sub-types of pancreatic cancer and leveraging Lantern’s proprietary RADR AI platform.

According to Panna Sharma, CEO of Lantern Pharma, the objective of the collaboration is to create a more biologically relevant and robust gene signature in preparation for future clinical trials, enabling pancreatic cancer patients to potentially benefit from a more effective and personalized cancer therapy. The work will be led by Dr. Igor Astsaturov, an internationally recognized researcher in gastrointestinal cancers, and will use patient-derived cancers that are grown in the lab, enabling researchers to more precisely understand the biology of what actually happens inside the cancer tumor.

As Sharma explained, “The business model at Lantern is to rely on relationships with top-tier institutions that have a similar focus. Collaborations with world-leading cancer centers are an essential part of our strategy to rapidly advance the insights driving our therapeutic programs and grow our RADR AI platform by adding millions of new, unique and proprietary data points.”

“This relationship with Fox Chase will allow us to use state-of-the-art models and biological methods to add more physiologically relevant data and insights into the mechanisms of LP-184, and will further shape our algorithms for how certain compounds interact with specific tumor types,” he added. “The unique insights we gain will equip Lantern with critical advantages in our aim of accelerating LP-184’s path to clinical trials and ultimately commercialization, while saving millions of dollars in development costs. We hope to have LP-184 in clinical trials by the end of next year. This data-enabled and biomarker-based approach has the potential to meaningfully bend the cost curve of cancer drug development and help bring personalized cancer therapies to patients with reduced economic burden and greater efficacy.”

LP-184 is a DNA-damaging small-molecule drug candidate currently in preclinical development for certain genomically defined solid tumors, including pancreatic cancer. As a next-generation alkylating agent that preferentially damages DNA in cancer cells that overexpress certain biomarkers, LP-184 has the potential to be used as both monotherapy and as a synergistic agent in combination with other drugs. LP-184 has been advanced using Lantern’s proprietary RADR AI platform, which leverages more than 500 million data points, machine learning, genomics and computational biology to accelerate the discovery of potential mechanisms of action, and genomic and biomarker signatures that correlate to drug response in cancer patients.

Astsaturov specializes in investigating signaling pathways that inform the choice of biomarkers and innovative therapy combinations in clinical trials. He is known for his research in a number of cancer indications spanning pancreatic, stomach, liver and several others, as well as his belief that each individual cancer patient will soon be defined by the molecular makeup of their cancer cells.

The research program will use patient-derived cancers grown in the lab and transformed into physiologically relevant 3D organoids and PDx models. This approach enables researchers to understand the biology of what actually happens inside the cancer tumor. The team will attempt to establish the precise biomarker signatures and help to provide data-driven insight into additional mechanisms that can be leveraged in the fight against pancreatic cancer. Additionally, they will attempt to determine whether the overexpression of the gene PTGR1, a biomarker that has been linked to cancer cell proliferation, will indicate heightened sensitivity to LP-184 and a more favorable response rate and efficacy, as compared to standard-of-care agents.

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