Ten to twenty percent of breast cancers are classified as triple-negative – the tumor doesn’t have an estrogen, progesterone or HER2 receptor, all necessary for receptor-targeted treatments. Depending upon the stage of the disease at diagnosis, triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) can be aggressive and more likely to recur than other subtypes of breast cancer. The treatment of patients with TNBC, however, remains challenging since they cannot benefit from any currently available targeted therapy as their tumors lack ER, HER2 or any other well-defined target. Treatment is restricted to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and is often insufficient to stop recurrence and metastasis. Thus, a quarter of the reported yearly breast cancer deaths are due to TNBC.
Adecto Pharmaceuticals, an NSIV member since May 2016, has identified and validated a protein called ADAM8 as a target for TNBC treatment. ADAM8 is a critical driver of TNBC tumor growth and metastasis. Adecto Pharmaceuticals’ first product is an antibody-based targeted therapy for treatment of patients with ADAM8-positive TNBC.
Adecto Pharmaceuticals was founded by Drs. Gail Sonenshein, Nora Mineva, and Mathilde Romagnoli in 2014, and is built off of their work on signaling cascades, control of cell cycle, differentiation, and cell survival. The team was awarded a Phase I NCI STTR grant for the development of ADAM8 targeted therapies in 2016 and won the Tufts $100K New Ventures competition in 2015. The team also recently completed the NIH iCorps program to develop their business acumen.
“The iCorps program was an interesting experience for us,” said Dr. Sonenshein. “The experts we spoke with during the interview process helped us redefine our clinical trials strategy. In particular, we gained a better understanding of how to design our initial clinical trial, recruit patients and have the best chance of achieving a therapeutic response that is meaningful for oncologists and the FDA.”
Adecto is currently developing two lead candidate therapeutic antibodies with preclinical safety data and a companion diagnostic assay. More information can be found at adectopharma.com.