Mutant MYC inhibited by Phylogica

Monday, 16 November, 2015

Drug discovery company Phylogica (ASX:PYC) has announced the inhibition of the mutant gene MYC — which many cancers depend on for their survival — in an animal model.

There have previously been no effective MYC therapies available, due primarily to the inability to deliver an effective MYC inhibitor into the intracellular environment where MYC exists. Now, Phylogica’s cell-penetrating Phylomer peptides (CPPs) have been used deliver drug cargoes inside cancer cells, where they have effectively inhibited MYC.

According to the company, multiple Phylomer candidates have demonstrated the ability to bind and block intracellular MYC activity. Notably, two of these candidates exhibited better killing activity in cancer cells than the previous gold standard — Phylogica’s biologics drug called OmoMYC — when fused to CPPs.

Preliminary testing using one of the two Phylomers showed that the peptide was stable when incubated in serum for over 24 hours. Serum stability is an important ‘drug-like’ property required to achieve activity in animal models of disease.

“To date, we’ve assayed less than 20% of the hits identified in the primary screens against MYC as fusions to our cell-penetrating Phylomers,” said Phylogica CSO Dr Paul Watt. “We are encouraged by the high hit rate so far and are confident that a larger pool of specific MYC inhibitors will emerge once the functional screens are completed early next year. Once we have identified a broader set of MYC inhibitors, we will then choose the highest quality candidates for analysis in animal models of cancer.”

The news follows an announcement from earlier this month that OmoMYC, fused to a CPP called 1746, can be used to inhibit the activity of MYC and thus treat cancer in an animal model. The study was conducted by Associate Professor Pilar Blancafort, who observed a reduction in the size of tumours injected directly with the 1746-OmoMYC fusion when compared to controls. Inhibition of tumour growth was sustained even after cessation of treatment.

Phylogica (ASX:PYC) shares were trading 13.33% higher at $0.017 as of around 12.30 pm on Monday.

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