Vishwas Paralkar, PhD Of Cybrexa Therapeutics Discusses What Is Alphalex & How Does It Work: Makes Use Of Acidic Tumor Environment To Deliver Anti Cancer Agents Directly Into The Tumor.
Poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase inhibitors (PARPis) are a promising new class of anti-cancer agents, but their clinical application has largely been limited to tumors with homologous recombination deficiency (HRD), such as those with BRCA1/2 mutations. One strategy to target HRD-negative tumors with PARPis is to combine them with chemotherapy, although clinical trials indicate that dose-limiting toxicities are a major barrier to achieving synergistic efficacy with these combinations.
We sought to test the hypothesis that HRD-negative cancers can be effectively treated with tumor-targeted PARPis in combination with chemotherapy, using our recently developed alphalex platform. This platform allows small molecule anti-cancer agents to penetrate cell membranes only at the low pH associated with the tumor microenvironment and tumor cells, directly delivering drugs to tumors while sparing normal tissue. We tested whether alphalex PARPi-conjugates in combination with chemotherapy could selectively kill cancers independent of HRD status, using a range of in vitro and in vivo tumor models.
We conjugated a diverse range of structurally unique PARPis using the alphalex platform, and demonstrated that these molecules are delivered directly into tumor cells in a pH-dependent manner. We observed significant reductions in PARylation activity and exquisite synergy with DNA damaging agents in vitro. We then demonstrated that alphalex-PARPi conjugates in combination with both temozolomide (TMZ) and irinotecan induce significant tumor cell killing in HRD-negative tumors in vivo. Importantly, we found that our tumor-targeting approach significantly reduced normal tissue toxicity, with almost complete sparing of the bone marrow relative to TMZ alone.
The alphalex platform enables PARPi combinations with clinically relevant chemotherapies, as a means to target HRD-negative cancers without significant bone marrow toxicity. Based on these successful proof-of-concept data, we are now performing IND-enabling studies for an alphalex PARPi conjugate (CBX-11), and we anticipate initiating a Phase I clinical trial in January 2020 in solid tumors independent of HRD status.