NOK 13 million funding secured from the Research Council of Norway
Bergen, Norway, March 10, 2014 – BerGenBio AS (“BerGenBio” or the “Company”), an oncology biopharmaceutical company, is pleased to announce the award of a NOK 13 million grant from the Research Council of Norway’s User-driven Research based Innovation programme (BIA) to help fund research into novel therapeutics for inhibiting tumor epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a key driver of metastasis (cancer spread) and a mechanism of drug-resistance.
The focus of the project, titled: “Novel therapeutics inhibiting the EMT/Axl pathway in aggressive cancers”, is to implement state-of-the-art R&D strategies to identify and develop new drug candidates with the potential to prevent and reverse acquired cancer drug resistance. There is a significant unmet medical need for new treatments that prevent drug resistance. It is estimated that one in three people die of cancer, 90% of which from tumors that have spread and become resistant to treatment. A number of studies have shown that the Axl receptor kinase is closely linked to drug resistance and drugs that inhibit it could offer a promising potential new treatment option.
Research by BerGenBio in the development of BGB324, the Company’s first-in-class selective Axl kinase inhibitor, has firmly established the concept that inhibition of the Axl/EMT pathway is effective against acquired drug resistant and aggressive cancers and has also identified new approaches to inhibiting EMT. The development of a second generation of Axl-pathway targeting therapeutics has the potential to lead to more effective drugs in an era of increasingly personalized medicine. The BIA funding will be used to support development of these new concepts into new, highly innovative drug leads with early preclinical proof-of-concept.
Established in 2006, the BIA programme is one of the largest programmes at the Research Council and is a key partner for Norwegian trade and industry. This broad-based programme supports high-quality R&D projects with good business and socio-economic potential.
BerGenBio has previously received NOK 11.7 million from the BIA for the project: “Targeting Cancer Stem Cells with Axl inhibitors to Treat Advanced Metastatic Cancer” in 2012.
Richard Godfrey, CEO of BerGenBio, commented: “There is a growing need for new therapies to treat aggressive cancers that are resistant to current anti-cancer drugs. We have demonstrated that Axl plays a key role in drug resistance with our lead drug candidate, BGB324, a first-in-class selective Axl kinase inhibitor, currently in Phase Ib clinical studies. This funding will help accelerate our research efforts to uncover new drugs to address this significant unmet medical need.”
About the Axl kinase receptor
The Axl tyrosine kinase receptor is regarded as one of the most promising new therapeutic targets for cancer drug development. It is upregulated in tumors residing in a hostile micro-environment and plays a crucial role in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which in turn is a key driver of metastasis (cancer spread) and in mechanisms of acquired drug-resistance.
About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is a biopharmaceutical company located in Bergen, Norway. The company is committed to developing first in class therapeutics that inhibit tumor EMT, preventing the formation of cancer stem cells and disrupting the important mechanisms of acquired cancer drug resistance. The company is founded on proprietary platform technology called CellSelect™, which uses information from RNAi screening studies to identify and validate novel drug targets and biomarkers. BGB324 is the first compound in BerGenBio’s pipeline to enter clinical trials, with additional compounds and drug targets at different stages of preclinical development.
For further information please contact:
Richard Godfrey, CEO
Tel +47 917 86 304
Simon Conway / Stephanie Cuthbert
Tel + 44 (0)20 7831 3113