Our drug discovery research focuses on identifying well-validated clinical and commercial-stage compounds and establishing a scientific rationale for development in modern orphan drug indications. Through our relationship with Valent Technologies, LLC ("Valent"), a company owned by Dr. Dennis Brown, our Chief Scientific Officer, we are able to utilize Valent's proprietary ChemEstate™ bioinformatics tools which are used to screen and identify potential candidates. Promising candidates are further researched through our network of consultants and contract research organizations. This approach allows us to rapidly identify and advance potential drug candidates without significant investment in "wet lab" infrastructure. Based on this strategy, we acquired the initial VAL-083 intellectual property and prototype drug product from Valent and have identified additional drug candidates that we may have the opportunity to license or acquire in the future.
VAL-083, our first product candidate represents a "first-in-class" small molecule chemotherapeutic, which means that the molecular structure of VAL-083 is not an analogue or derivative of other small molecule chemotherapeutics approved for the treatment of cancer. VAL-083 has been assessed in 42 Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institutes ("NCI") in the United States as a treatment for various cancers including lung, brain, cervical, ovarian tumors and leukemia. Published pre-clinical and clinical data suggest that VAL-083 may be active against a range of tumor types. VAL-083 is approved as a cancer chemotherapeutic in China for the treatment of CML and lung cancer.
Based on published research and our own data, the cytotoxic functional groups and the mechanism of action of VAL-083 are understood to be functionally different from alkylating agents commonly used in the treatment of cancer. VAL-083 has previously demonstrated activity in cell-lines that are resistant to other types of chemotherapy. No evidence of cross-resistance has been reported in published clinical studies. Therefore, we believe that VAL-083 may be effective in treating tumors that have failed or become resistant to other chemotherapies.
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Glioblastoma multiforme ("GBM"), also known as Grade IV astrocytoma, is the most common and the most lethal form of glioma. According to the World Health Organization, GBM occurs with an incidence of 3.17 per 100,000 person-years.1 Approximately 15,000 new cases of GBM are expected to be diagnosed in the United States during 2015.2 GBM progresses quickly and patients deteriorate rapidly. Common symptoms include headaches, seizures, nausea, weakness, paralysis and personality or cognitive changes such as loss of speech or difficulty in thinking clearly. The majority of GBM patients do not survive for more than two years following diagnosis, and the median survival in newly diagnosed patients with best available treatments is 14.6 months.
Standard treatment following diagnosis includes surgical resection to remove as much of the tumor as possible (debulking) followed by radiotherapy with concomitant and adjuvant chemotherapy with Temodar® (temozolomide, "TMZ"). Nearly all patients diagnosed with GBM will relapse following first-line treatment, with a 1-year survival rate of approximately 25% following failure of front-line therapy, with average 5-year survival rate less than 3%.3
Based on historical data and our own research, we believe that VAL-083 has the potential to offer a physicians and patients a new paradigm in the treatment of GBM that will address significant to address unmet medical needs. In addition, the profile of VAL-083 offers the potential of additive or synergistic benefit as a future combination therapy with existing chemotherapeutic agents or novel vaccine or immunotherapy approaches currently under investigation.1 CBTRUS Statistical Report: Primary Brain and Central Nervous System Tumors Diagnosed in the United States in 2004-2006 . Hinsdale, IL: Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States; 2010.
Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality around the world and effective treatment for lung cancer remains a significant global unmet need despite advances in therapy. In general, prognosis for lung cancer patients remains poor, with 5-year relative survival less than 14% among males and less than 18% among females in most countries.1 Globally, the market for lung cancer treatment may exceed $7 billion by 2019 according to report published by Transparency Market research.
Non-small cell lung cancer ("NSCLC") is the most common type of lung cancer. There are three common forms of NSCLC: adenocarcinomas are often found in an outer area of the lung; squamous cell carcinomas are usually found in the center of the lung next to an air tube (bronchus); and large cell carcinomas, which can occur in any part of the lung and tend to grow and spread faster than adenocarcinoma. NSCLC accounts for 85% of all lung cancer cases in the United States and approximately 90% of lung cancer cases diagnosed in China.2
We believe VAL-083's unique bi-functional alkylating mechanism of action could make it a valuable drug of choice in NSCLC patients who are or become resistant to TKI therapy. In addition, VAL-083 readily crosses the blood brain barrier suggesting that it may be possible for VAL-083 to treat patients whose lung cancer has spread to the brain. Based on these beliefs, we have acquired certain commercial rights to VAL-083 in China where it is approved for the treatment of lung cancer. We have begun to establish a strong scientific and clinical rationale to support the development of VAL-083 as a potential treatment for NSCLC in the modern era.
1 Youlden et al. The International Epidemiology of Lung Cancer: geographical distribution and secular
trends, J Thorac Oncol. 2008 Aug;3(8):819-31.
2 Molona et al. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, Treatment, and Survivorship. as: Mayo Clin Proc. 2008 May; 83(5): 584-594.
Myeloid leukemia, or CML, is characterized by three progressive phases: chronic, aggressive and blast, each corresponding with poorer prognosis. Approximately 85% of patients with CML are in the chronic phase at the time of diagnosis. Chronic phase patients are usually asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms such as fatigue or no symptoms at all. The duration of chronic phase is variable and depends on how early the disease was diagnosed as well as type of treatment. Without treatment, CML progresses to an accelerated phase and eventually to blast crisis. Blast crisis is the final phase in the evolution of CML and behaves like an acute leukemia with rapid progression and short expected survival.
The NCI studied VAL-083 extensively in laboratory and animal models of hematological malignancies (blood cancers). VAL-083 has been approved for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML, in China. The incidence of CML in the United States is approximately two per 100,000 of population.1
We believe that data from NCI-sponsored studies and commercial evidence from the Chinese market support that there exists a substantive clinical benefit of VAL-083 in CML. We also believe that the unique mechanism of action of VAL-083, in combination with newly developed data positions the drug as a valuable therapy for patients who have failed other treatments, including TKIs. This represents a significant clinical and commercial opportunity for large subsets of patient populations in the existing-approved China market as well as for global development in CML.1 Cortes et al. Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia. Cancer Management 2014