Biotech company Shasqi and Johnson & Johnson have entered into a research collaboration to develop new cancer therapies.
Shasqi’s Click Activated Protodrugs Against Cancer (CAPAC) platform relies on chemistry for activation of drugs at the tumour. The platform is made up of a tumour-targeting agent and a cancer therapeutic, which are activated via ‘click chemistry’.
“This is a compelling opportunity to expand our platform,” said José Mejía Oneto, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shasqi. “We are excited to collaborate and apply click chemistry for potential new therapies in areas of significant unmet medical need.”
The use of click chemistry to activate cancer drugs at the tumour has been clinically validated. In a Phase I study, click chemistry was used to activate a dose of doxorubicin that is 12-times a conventional dose, with a favourable toxicity profile.
Tumour localisation of click chemistry was achieved through an intratumorally injected biopolymer. A Phase IIa study is currently enrolling patients with soft tissue sarcoma and head and neck cancer.
The collaboration will focus on Shasqi’s intratumorally injected biopolymer (SQL70) and a co-development committee has been formed with the aim of identifying the next clinical candidate.
“This marks the start of Shasqi’s ambition to collaboratively develop the next generation of tumour-targeted therapies, expanding on the foundation built by antibody drug conjugates,” said Mukul Agarwal, Chief Business Officer at Shasqi. “The reliance on chemistry, not biology for drug activation, allows for the use of small molecules, peptides, and antibody fragments to target tumour antigens, creating unprecedented flexibility.”