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FASgen passes cancer drug development milestone

FASgen : 01 October, 2007  (New Product)
Led by FAS031, FASgen's fatty acid synthase inhibitor (FASi) compounds have demonstrated efficacy against every solid tumour xenograft cell line tested, in both orthotopic and flank models: four lung tumour cell lines (H460; A549; H1975; LX7); two ovarian; breast; and, colon.
In many cases the tumours were eradicated entirely. The compounds have been shown in extensive preclinical studies to be remarkably safe and orally available.

One compound was safely given to mice twice a day orally for six months with no observed adverse side effects except the elimination of the tumours. Other compounds were given to mice in a two year experiment and prevented the onset of tumours in nearly a third of the mice. That experiment was repeated with a different compound and produced the same result.

Several of these results have been recently published and others will shortly be published in leading oncology journals.

FASi is a new mechanism of action for the treatment of cancer.

The fatty acid biosynthesis pathway is critical to all living organisms to produce fat and regulate the body's energy. In cancer cells, FASgen researchers over the last 15 years have discovered that the mechanism acts differently. As cancer cells do not produce fat, the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway in the transformed cell acts to regulate the energy source that keeps the cell alive. One critical enzyme in that pathway is FAS. The company's researchers have discovered that inhibition of FAS kills the cancer cell, a result that has been recently replicated in a number of labs and become the subject of a series of new publications.

FASgen has developed a library of FASi compounds and has an extensive body of intellectual property surrounding both the mechanism of action and uses for the compounds, and of course the composition of individual compounds. 'This discovery holds out the prospect for a new method of treatment for cancer that is remarkably safe and may diminish or even avoid many of the adverse side effects on existing chemotherapeutic drugs,' said Dr Frank Kuhajda, FASgen's chief scientific advisor and a founder of the company.

The company is pleased with the news that NCI has agreed to support the development of these compounds at The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center through a grant to Hopkins for research into treatment of lung cancer and has been separately supporting the company with grant funding for ovarian cancer. FASgen is developing the clinical trial programme to test these compounds in Phase I/II trials at Hopkins and other centres.

'This news has changed the direction of the company from a research organization to a drug development company, and, of course, has increased the need for funding. After seven years of research, the company is now seeking its first major round of outside financing,' said Eric F Stoer, chairman of board.
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