BerGenBio AS, an emerging oncology biopharma, is developing a first in class inhibitor of Axl kinase, BGB324. Promising preclinical data on the importance of Axl kinase in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) will be presented at the 53rd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition, in San Diego. The research, completed by Sonja Loges, M.D., Ph.D. from University of Hamburg, suggests that Axl is a useful prognostic indictor for AML and that BerGenBio`s inhibitor, BGB324, is a highly effective therapeutic candidate.
BerGenBio has been researching the Axl receptor for a number of years now, and has shown that this ubiquitous cell surface molecule is fundamental to cancer biology. It has demonstrated that Axl has a crucial role in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, EMT, a mechanism in cancerous cells that may enable the escape from chemotherapy and likely contributes to tumour metastasis. BGB324 has potential as a therapeutic agent, since the EMT pathway is common across many cancers and does not have a function in healthy tissues. BGB324, also known as R428, was originally developed by San Francisco-based Rigel Pharmaceuticals, and subsequently licensed to BerGenBio AS, is a highly selective, orally bioavailable kinase inhibitor that appears to be well tolerated in animals.
At ASH, Dr. Loges will present the most recent data on the effects of Axl expression and inhibition in AML. The Hamburg group has demonstrated that the expression of Axl in AML is an independent factor associated with poor clinical outcome and survival. Dr. Loges will present data demonstrating that BGB324 inhibits growth in human AML tumours in xenograft studies in mice when administered alone and exerts additive effects when co-administered with the standard of care. Richard Godfrey, CEO of BerGenBio, added “Dr. Loges work is very promising for the application of BGB324 as a novel therapeutic agent for AML. This also fits into the wider picture of the significance of Axl to tumour formation and maintenance. With this quality of research and findings, we will accelerate the clinical development of our first in class Axl kinase inhibitor, BGB324. We are still considering the full development plan for BGB324, but anticipate starting clinical trials in early 2013.”
Poster Title: Prognostic Significance and Target Potential of Axl in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Session 613. Acute Myeloid Leukemia – Biology & Pathophysiology: Clinical and Epidemiologic Studies of AML and APL
Room 31. Tuesday 13th December 2011, 8.15AM
Alexander Schultze, M.D., M.Sc.1,2*, Isabel Ben-Batalla, Ph.D.1,2*, Michael Heuser, M.D.3, Kristoffer Weber, Ph.D.4*, Robert Erdmann, Ph.D.1,2*, Sacha Holland, Ph.D.5*, Stefanie Sawall1,2*, Helena Fritz, M.Sc.6*, Marc Tjwa, M.D., Ph.D.7*, Thomas Schmidt, M.D.8*, Walter Fiedler, M.D.1, Boris Fehse, Ph.D.4*, Bjorn Dahlback, M.D.6*, Klaus Pantel, M.D., Ph.D.2*, Jürgen Krauter3*, Arnold Ganser, MD3, Carsten Bokemeyer, M.D.1* and Sonja Loges, M.D., Ph.D.1,2*
1Hubertus Wald University Cancer Center, Department of Oncology and Hematology with sections Pneumonology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany
2Institute of Tumor Biology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany
3Hematology, Hemostasis, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
4Research Department Cell and Gene Therapy, Clinic for Stem Cell Transplantation, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
5Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc., South San Francisco, CA
6Department of Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital Malmö, Malmö, Sweden
7Institute for Transfusion Medicine, oethe University Medical School and University Hospital Frankfurt
8Department of General, Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, University of Heidelberg
About BerGenBio AS
BerGenBio AS is an oncology-based biopharmaceutical company located in Bergen, Norway, focused on pursuing therapeutic treatments for cancer and supporting the screening and identification of a wide array of potential targets in collaboration with other pharmaceutical companies. BerGenBio has a proprietary platform technology called CellSelect™, which uses information from RNAi screening studies to identify novel drug targets involved in disease. The company has a deep understanding of cancer biology and in particular the tumour micro-environment, EMT and mechanisms of drug resistance. BGB324 is the first of a pipeline of oncology therapeutics planned for clinical development through to phase II in partnership with industry leaders.