The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) has awarded $500,000 through its Biotech Investment Award (BIA) program to Modulation Therapeutics, an early-stage pharmaceutical company which has licensed MTI-101 from the Moffitt Cancer Center.
The funding will support the clinical development of Modulation’s proprietary approach for treating tumors that home or metastasize to the bone. William S. Dalton, Ph.D., M.D., and colleagues first reported that cell adhesion mediated drug resistance or CAM-DR can contribute to drug resistance in multiple myeloma. The critical importance of targeting CAM-DR in mediating the progression of multiple myeloma has become increasingly clear in recent years based on work supported by the MMRF in the laboratory of Lori Hazlehurst, Ph.D., associate member in the molecular oncology program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and co-founder of Modulation Therapeutics.
The company's lead candidate MTI-101 binds the cell adhesion molecule CD44 and induces programmed necrosis in myeloma cell lines and demonstrates robust anti-tumor activity as a single agent using myeloma in vivo models. While standard therapy typically induces apoptotic cell death, MTI-101 targets alternative cell death pathways critical for the treatment of refractory disease. In support of this premise, data generated using myeloma patient specimens suggest that MTI-101 may prove most effective in cases of relapsed myeloma.
"This BIA funding and the early support of the MMRF is critical for accelerating MTI-101 into clinical trials in multiple myeloma, the first of multiple indications we hope to pursue," said Hazlehurst. "Modulation Therapeutics is committed to developing peptides targeting key cell adhesion molecules that mediate homing, engraftment and survival of tumor cells in bone marrow, an approach we hope will ultimately enable novel therapies meeting the significant unmet need in multiple myeloma."
Several MMRF Biotech Investment Awards program recipients have already released impressive clinical trial results with novel therapies, including Tragara Pharmaceuticals (TG02), Astex Pharmaceuticals (AT7519) and Intellikine (acquired in 2011 by Takeda Pharmaceuticals; INK128). AT7519 and INK128 are in parallel studies run by the MMRF sister organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC).
Since the inception of this MMRF program in 2006, $11.5 million has been committed to 12 biotech companies in multi-year, results-driven funding for the development of innovative treatments for patients with multiple myeloma.