PMD-026, the first RSK inhibitor to demonstrate potential disease-modifying properties in TNBC, is now fully funded through IND-
VANCOUVER, British Columbia and SAN DIEGO, Sept. 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Phoenix Molecular Designs (PhoenixMD), a privately-held biotechnology company designing precise cancer therapeutics by targeting essential kinases, announced today the completion of a $2.7M financing effort, which includes an over-subscribed $2M round in venture-backed capital and over $670K in non-dilutive capital. The venture round is led by Pallasite Ventures and includes new angel investors and existing angel investors from prior funding rounds. PhoenixMD intends to use the proceeds to advance its lead asset PMD-026 through IND-enabling studies and to develop a sophisticated companion diagnostic test to determine which patients have high levels of activated RSK2, the protein that PMD-026 disrupts.
“This financing is a critical step forward in bringing the first disease-modifying therapeutic treatment to women suffering from TNBC. The PhoenixMD team is committed to innovating in the breast cancer field and we are excited to deploy Pallasite’s investment to such an experienced team to solve an unmet medical need,” said Chris Bissonnette, Ph.D., Managing Partner of Pallasite Ventures. In connection with the financing, Dr. Bissonnette has joined PhoenixMD’s Board of Directors.
“We are thrilled to close our first venture-backed round with such high-quality investors, which is a major achievement for the company,” said Sandra E. Dunn, Ph.D., CEO of PhoenixMD. “The proceeds from this financing, and the non-dilutive capital from recent research grants will advance PMD-026 through critical IND-enabling studies and will begin planning around our upcoming Phase 1 study, which we are very excited to initiate.”
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.
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 Florida, Kyushu 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 phoenixmd.ca.
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