Dublin drug development company Inflection Biosciences has signed a research deal with Trinity College. The start-up is working on a new approach to blocking the spread of cancer cells in patients with aggressive treatment-resistant breast cancer.
The research collaboration will explore the immunotherapeutic properties of the company’s lead pipeline product – that is, how it can harness the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.
Inflection’s drug is designed to stop cancer spreading through PI3K pathway – seen as a common conduit in breast cancer – and also via a gene known as the PIM2 kinase, which is now thought to be a regular back-up pathway for cancer cells when PI3K is blocked. A number of existing drugs target PI3K, but none as yet inhibits both it and PIM2.
The company will work with a research group within the school of biochemistry and immunology at Trinity’s Biomedical Sciences Institute. Immunotherapies have been a major focus of cancer research in recent years.
Prof Ed Lavelle, who leads the Trinity research group, said the twin inhibitor approach "should offer new promise" in the treatment of cancer. "The initial data generated by the company already suggests an immunomodulatory profile, and we look forward to better understanding the mechanism of that effect."
Dr Michael O’Neill, director of research and development at Inflection, said: “Their work will greatly add to our understanding of how and where our new treatments will work best in breast cancer patients.”
Inflection is presenting preclinical data on its aspiring breast cancer therapy, IBL-302, to the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting in Chicago on Monday.
The company is currently fund-raising for a move into Phase I clinical trials in human patients to test the safety and efficacy of its drug.