Phoenix Molecular Designs Announces Manufacturing Collaboration with WuXi STA to advance PMD-026 toward IND

PMD-026 is the first RSK inhibitor to demonstrate potential disease-modifying properties in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia and SAN DIEGOApril 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Phoenix Molecular Designs (PhoenixMD), a privately-held biotechnology company designing precise cancer therapeutics by targeting essential kinases, announced that it has entered into a collaboration with STA Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd (STA), a WuXi AppTec group company, to manufacture the PMD-026 needed for IND-enabling toxicology studies and a Phase I study in women.

Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, STA will become a new manufacturing partner for PhoenixMD for their platform of kinase inhibitor drug candidates to treat a wide range of unmet medical needs, with an initial focus on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).  STA will be responsible for the early manufacturing work through their GMP-certified site in San Diego, CA.  Through these collaborative efforts, PhoenixMD expects to file an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for PMD-026. 

Dr. Minzhang Chen, CEO of STA, commented, “We are excited to manufacture PMD-026 and enable Phoenix MD to advance this novel RSK inhibitor to shrink tumors in Phase 1 studies in women.”

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with STA, a global leader in drug development and manufacturing, who has helped us achieve an important milestone in the efficient and scalable manufacturing of PMD-026,” said Sandra E. Dunn, CEO PhoenixMD.  “Through this work, we have demonstrated that PMD-026 has the potential to be disease-modifying with its ability to block the RSK pathway signaling and initiating significant tumor shrinkage of up to 70% in TNBC xenograft models.  Looking ahead, we expect to build upon this progress and file an IND for PMD-026, with the ultimate goal of confirming these revolutionary results in women suffering from TNBC.”

Gerrit Los, CSO of PhoenixMD added, “It is critical to have a manufacturing partner at this stage of development for PMD-026. This collaboration will allow us to move PMD-026 into IND enabling toxicology studies and to get ready for a successful IND filing. Importantly, it provides us the security to have access to GMP quality API when we are ready to start our Phase I study.”

About Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) and RSK Kinases

Approximately 400,000 cases of TNBC are diagnosed every year worldwide and it is one of the most difficult breast cancer subtypes to treat due to lack of effective, targeted therapies.  TNBC also claims the lives of young women more than any other type of breast cancer due to a lack of understanding around the therapeutic bullseye.  It is also a very heterogeneous disease, therefore a common denominator across TNBC types was necessary to identify the bullseye.  Through genome-wide screens, RSK was identified as the prime target for TNBC by scientists at PhoenixMD. Currently, there are still no targeted therapies available for TNBC. 

There are four types of RSK involved in cancer, known as RSK1-4, and each type has a unique role in the development of the disease. RSK1 is responsible for cancer cell invasion and is an important driver in the spread of cancer. RSK2 controls cancer cell growth, and RSK3 and RSK4 are associated with drug resistance. 

RSK1 and RSK2 have been proven critical to the survival of patients with TNBC.  Over 90% of primary TNBC express high levels of RSK1 and RSK2.  Inhibiting RSK2 eliminates TNBC cells completely, including cancer stem cells, which give rise to cancer recurrence.  PhoenixMD, with its novel, targeted approach, is focused on creating patented cancer RSK inhibitors and companion diagnostics for cancer indications – initially in breast cancer – with the potential to treat blood, brain, ovarian, lung, skin, prostate, colon, head and neck cancers.

Currently, there are no approved targeted therapies for TNBC, although several drugs are subject to research studies and clinical trials. PhoenixMD is addressing this unmet medical need through a novel, targeted approach by inhibiting critical kinases, such as RSK1-4, a group of highly conserved Ser/Thr kinases that promote cell proliferation, growth, motility and survival. For this target, PhoenixMD developed PMD-026, a first-in-class, specific RSK inhibitor that blocks downstream signaling of RSK and induces apoptosis.

About PhoenixMD

PhoenixMD is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company designing precise cancer therapeutics and companion diagnostics by targeting kinases, a class of highly druggable enzymes to treat a wide range of oncology indications.  PhoenixMD is focused on developing first-in-class inhibitors against ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK), an important drug target for cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.  Due to its emerging leadership in kinase inhibition, PhoenixMD has entered into partnerships with well-recognized academic, non-profit institutions and development companies such as the National Cancer Institute (NIH), University of FloridaKyushu University, Mayo Clinic, and University of Hawaii Comprehensive Cancer Center. PhoenixMD is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada with U.S. operations in San Diego, CA.  For more information, visit