The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Rye Brook and drug discovery company Selvita S.A. today announced a partnership to fund preclinical and clinical development of a therapy aimed to treat patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which has a high mortality rate.
Selvita, which is based in Krakow, Poland, is developing SEL120, a therapy that targets the cyclin-dependent kinase 8 protein, which plays a critical role in gene regulation.
In laboratory experiments, according to a joint statement by LLS and Selvita, treatment with SEL120 has been shown to result “in the death of AML cells especially with elevated phosphorylation of STAT5 and stem cell characteristics, which is significant because AML stem cells are typically resistant to conventional therapies and thereby mediate relapsed disease.”
Under the terms of the agreement, LLS will provide up to $3.25 million funding over four years through its Therapy Acceleration Program in order to help fund SEL120 investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies and a Phase I trial in AML.
Selvita began IND-enabling studies for SEL120 in June. The studies are a critical step in getting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s permission to begin human clinical trials.
People who are diagnosed with AML are typically treated with the same chemotherapies that have been used for the past 40 years, according to LLS. The standard treatment for AML includes high-dose chemotherapy with a cytarabine/anthracycline combination, followed by either one to four cycles of consolidation (postremission) chemotherapy, and stem cell transplantation, either using a patient’s own cells or a donor’s cells.
LLS’ program funds projects related to therapies, supportive care or diagnostics that have the potential to change the standard of care for patients with blood cancer, especially in areas of high unmet medical need. Further development of the SEL120 project will be co-funded through the Biotechnology Accelerator Division, an initiative to partner directly with biotechnology companies.
“LLS has developed a comprehensive approach to beat AML, which is one of the leukemias associated with exceptionally high mortality rates. Moreover, very few effective agents are available to control AML, particularly in elderly individuals where the disease commonly occurs,” said Lee Greenberger, LLS’ chief scientific officer. “LLS is focused on identifying and advancing the most innovative therapeutics to control and/or eradicate blood cancers. LLS’ partnership with Selvita understates our commitment to accelerating cures for this deadly disease.”
Since 1953, LLS has funded more than $1 billion in blood cancer research through 4,000 grants to academic institutions and over 50 therapeutic opportunities through the Therapy Acceleration Program.
Selvita, which also has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, has alliances and partnerships with more than 50 large and medium-size pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the U.S. and Europe. Those partnerships include Merck, H3 Biomedicine, Nodthera Therapeutics/Epidarex Capital and Menarini Group.