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Aug 20, 2010

Anchor Raises $10M in Series B to Progress Preclinical GPCR-Targeting Pepducin Drugs

  • Anchor Therapeutics (previously Ascent Therapeutics) secured $10 million in a Series B fundraising led by current investors. The company says it is also in discussions with other potential investors interested in participating in the financing round.

    Anchor is developing a preclinical pipeline of peptide drug candidates it has termed pepducines. The GPCR-modulating drugs are generated by linking a short peptide derived from a GPCR intracellular loop to a lipid entity. Anchor claims this structure allows pepducins to anchor in the cell membrane and target GPCR proteins via an intracellular allosteric mechanism. This means that in contrast with current GPCR-based therapeutics that act at the receptor's extracellular ligand binding site, pepducins modulate GPCRs through their intracellular domain, altering downstream signaling pathways.

    The firm hopes its platform will enable the targeting of GPCRs currently intractable using other techniques and provide a new approach to the development of GPCR therapeutics against a wider range of diseases including inflammatory and metabolic disorders. The firm’s most advanced preclinical candidate is in the field of oncology.

    In 2008 Anchor negotiated a potentially $200 million licensing option agreement with Novartis through the latter’s Novartis Option Fund. This partnership has led to Anchor progressing multiple programs through lead optimization against targets in the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and inflammatory fields. The Novartis Option Fund also participated in the latest Series B financing round.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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