Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT) signed an exclusive license with the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center to develop small molecule inhibitors of choline kinase. ACT believes that compounds developed could be used against solid and hematological cancers.
The Brown Cancer Center researchers discovered that this enzyme was required for the survival of tumors. They found that removal of the gene for choline kinase caused a block in signals required for tumor survival. They then screened chemicals and identified one that turned off the enzyme. This lead inhibitor of choline kinase caused the destruction of lung tumors in mice.
ACT has an arrangement with the Brown Cancer Center whereby it is able to obtain exclusive, worldwide licenses to novel cancer therapeutics discovered at the center. In fact, three of the four compounds in ACT’s pipeline were obtained from Brown Cancer Center. One small molecule program targets the macrophage migration inhibitory factor, which promotes multiple pro-angiogenic growth factors (VEGF and IL-8) and contributes to tumor cell division, metastases, and tumor vascularization (i.e., angiogenesis).
Another blocks the uptake of glucose in cancer cells, starving the cells of an important source of energy needed for growth and disease progression. The third program licensed from Brown Cancer Center is an HPV vaccine derived from tobacco mosaic plants that targets the L2 capsid protein to provide broader immune protection to patients at risk of contracting cervical cancer.