Approach originating from the University of Colorado is designed to stop drug-resistant cancer cells from generating energy.

Viral Genetics is setting up a wholly owned subsidiary, MetaCytdoLytics, to further develop an anticancer approach known as metabolic disruption technology (MDT). The company says that this will allow it to focus on its core autoimmune disease projects and primary immune therapy program against HIV.

MDT prevents tumor cells from generating energy from glucose or fatty acids. Originally developed by the University of Colorado professor M. Karen Newell, Ph.D., the MDT approach involves the administration of compounds targeting cancer-specific metabolic activities in tumors, including those that are drug-resistant.

The company is reportedly finalizing negotiations with the University of Colorado and University of Vermont to convert its existing option to the MDT to an exclusive, worldwide license for a broad range of applications and specific therapeutic compositions.

Richard J Trauger, Ph.D., will head MetaCytoLytics as CEO. He was previously senior director for infectious disease and cancer at Hollis Eden Pharmaceuticals. On completion of specific benchmarks, Dr. Trauger will have an option to acquire a 25% stake in MetaCytoLytics.

“Metabolic disruption is a concept that has tantalized cancer researchers for decades,” Dr. Trauger comments. “We believe that we finally have the knowledge and tools to turn this concept into clinical reality.”

Viral Genetics notes that animal studies have shown metabolic disruption directly causes cancer cell death and also boosts the effectiveness of chemo- and radiotherapies. Over 400 in vitro and animal studies have been carried out by Dr. Newell’s team with a panel of disrupting compounds to demonstrate proof of principal.

Dr. Newell is also the originator of technology Viral Genetics believes may explain the mechanism of its lead HIV therapy candidate, VGV-1. It comprises adjuvanted thymus nuclear protein (TNP), which is created from a mixture of peptides derived from thymic histones. The treatment is designed as a course of 16 injections. In November 2008 Viral Genetics completed its acquisition of V-Clip Pharmaceuticals, giving it exclusive worldwide rights to Dr. Newell’s TNP-related patents.

A recent Phase III trial in South Africa reportedly showed treatment of patients with VGV-1 resulted in a statistically significant antiviral effect three months after the last treatment. Successful pilot studies have also been carried out in Mexico, China, and Bulgaria, the firm reports. 

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