Unique Approach to Cancer Therapy
Esperance is developing unique and innovative targeted cancer therapeutics, called membrane disrupting peptides (MDPs) that utilize a novel mechanism of action to selectively kill cancer cells. These product candidates kill only cancer cells that express the target receptors on their surface. Normal cells that do not express these surface receptors remain unharmed. The MDP-conjugates destroy primary tumors and eliminate metastatic cancer cells in pre-clinical animal models of a wide variety of human cancers including breast, prostate, ovarian, endometrial and testicular cancers. Another characteristic of these product candidates is the ability to kill cancer cells that are known to be resistant to traditional chemotherapeutic drugs. Esperance believes that its unique cancer targeting technology is a major technical advance over previous and other approaches that attempt to deliver cytotoxic molecules.
Mechanism of Action
Esperance’s product candidates kill cancer cells by disrupting their cell membranes leading to cell lysis. The steps involved in cell killing are summarized in the figure below. The molecules seek out and specifically bind only to cancer cells that express the target receptors on their surfaces (Step 1). The positively charged molecules interact with the negatively charged membranes of the cancer cells. The resulting disruption of the cell membrane causes the cancer cell to die by cell lysis (Steps 2 to 4).
Personalized Medicine Approach
Esperance is also developing a companion diagnostic system that will be used to select patients who are likely to respond to its drugs during clinical trials and after approval of the drugs. Biopsies obtained from cancer patients are obtained and analyzed for the presence of the target receptors. Only patients whose biopsies contain high levels of the target receptors will be treated with the Esperance drug. This “personalized medicine” approach will increase the probability of demonstrating success in the clinical trials designed to show efficacy of the drugs because only a selected group of cancer patients will be treated and likely to show efficacy.