FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Reher
Burlingame, July 1, 2022
Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) has made tremendous progress since our founding two short years ago, and we thought it would be a good time to share some of our accomplishments made possible by the combined support and generosity of friends like you. I am pleased to provide you with this brief update on our progress.
As you know, our mission is to fund outstanding and novel translational science that is aimed at the discovery of a cure for brain cancer. When ABC2 was created, there were no promising therapies available to brain cancer patients. We recognized a significant need to make strategic investments that would directly result in novel therapeutic options. We also learned that there were significant technical and economic barriers for drug companies that deterred their development of new therapies for these patients. We are working with private industry, government agencies and academia to overcome these barriers and accelerate the cure for brain cancer.
ABC2 has made dramatic progress in a number of areas - from technology development to preclinical screening, leading to clinical trials in the near future. We have encouraged cooperation between four leading neuro-oncology clinical centers by creating a clinical network to work with drug sponsors to test newer therapies. In addition, we awarded grants to nearly two dozen investigators to further accelerate their research. We have established the first of a number of planned collaborations with industry, working with Genentech on two different programs and a unique partnership with Ingenuity and CaP CURE. And we are funding critical screening of potential brain cancer drugs at Duke University.
Duke University Preclinical Evaluation Center
In an effort to address this critical need, and provide quality screening of potentially effective drugs, ABC2 committed funding to Duke University - a leader in brain cancer research and treatment - to provide screening of up to 12 new molecules per year. This screening is done at no cost to the drug companies that provide these molecules for testing. As a result, the number of molecules being screened has risen dramatically and the economic barrier to the drug companies for this preclinical screening is eliminated. Through this important investment, we hope to identify new and promising therapies for brain cancer patients.
The ABC2 Clinical Network, established in early 2003, provides guidance and counsel to ABC2 and various sponsors of therapeutics in the design and execution of early stage, molecularly targeted clinical trials for adult glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Charter members of the network include four leading neuro-oncology centers: University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; Duke University; and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The network's focus is to understand and exploit specific abnormalities in individual patients through science-driven trials and to locate appropriate patients for clinical trials. ABC2 will work with the centers and biotech/pharmaceutical companies to encourage a flow of potentially interesting and valuable products to test in these early stage, highly targeted clinical trials. If trial results are encouraging, they may lead to larger trials involving the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Collaborations with Genentech
Under the initial agreement, Genentech conducts extensive research at its own expense. Once they identify a promising therapy for development, ABC2 may co-fund the development expense required to bring the product to human clinical trials. Assuming the product is ultimately approved by the FDA, ABC2 would receive a royalty on product sales, which will be used to fund the foundation's other projects.
The second agreement focuses on the development of Genentech's Tarceva™ (erlotinib), in GBM. Tarceva is a small molecule designed to target the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER1) pathway, also known as EGFR, which is critical to cell growth in many cancers. Tarceva is in late stage clinical trials for non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. There was a strong rationale to test Tarceva in GBM and a Phase I study reported recently at the American Society of Clinical Oncology confirmed activity in GBM. As a result, Genentech will soon be enrolling patients in a Phase II study, utilizing our Clinical Network and partially funded by ABC2. We will receive royalty payments if Tarceva is approved for GBM.
Partnership with CaP CURE and Ingenuity Systems
This partnership of ABC2; Ingenuity Systems, a software company that leverages the application of systems biology in mitigating the effects of cancers; along with Cap CURE, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, will test existing drugs against recently discovered gene defects associated with prostate and brain cancer pathways. A number of leading researchers are participating in the program, including researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, University of Michigan, UCSF and UCLA. ABC2 is funding part of the program, because in doing so, we are creating opportunities to quickly bring new treatment paradigms to cancer patients. Dr. David Agus, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, commented on the program, "Through a better understanding of how cancer pathways interact, we expect to be able to take existing drugs and in a fraction of the time compared to novel compounds, demonstrate new ways to enhance patient care."
30 Awards Granted
We delivered 30 awards to leading investigators with novel ideas to rapidly advance promising therapies towards the clinic. Recipients include researchers at UCSF, UCLA, Duke University, M.D. Anderson, Cedars Sinai, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, University of Alabama and University of Colorado. We encourage individual investigators' creativity, which we believe must be explored and enhanced to maximize our chances of accelerating a cure for this disease. In past years, recipients of ABC2 awards have subsequently entered their products into clinical trials and received awards from the NIH to further their pioneering work.
Clinical Fellowship Granted
Earlier this year we were pleased to announce a clinical fellowship to the University of California, San Francisco. The recipient, Dr. Ian F. Parney, M.D., Ph.D., is studying in the UCSF neuro-oncology department under the guidance of Michael Prados, M.D., UCSF Professor and Chief, Neuro-Oncology Service, Brain Tumor Research Center, and Department of Neurological Surgery. The fellowship is intended to support clinical research on new therapies for brain cancer victims.
Annual Meeting in May 2003
To encourage the most creative approaches to curing brain cancer, we periodically convene experts from different, yet related fields to explore new approaches and innovative ways to attack brain cancer. Despite the complexity of the disease, we were encouraged to learn of progress on several fronts. The meeting is designed to create new collaborations and novel approaches to this disease, and this year was particularly productive. Also, at our most recent annual meeting, we heard from Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, Director of the National Cancer Institute. He voiced his interest in creatively working together with foundations and the corporate sector to accelerate the development of new therapies for patients with brain cancer. In addition, we were honored to have Dr. Mark McClellan, FDA Commissioner, on the program. His remarks were especially encouraging as he appears to be receptive to novel approaches to brain cancer clinical trials including use of surrogate endpoints resulting in accelerated approval of promising agents.
We are thankful for your support, and we will continue to update you on our aggressive efforts to accelerate the development of a cure for this devastating disease.
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