Arizona-based Systems Oncology has licensed a patented drug compound from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation. The compound offers safe and effective suppression of tumors using a unique approach.
The compound disrupts the interaction between the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and proteins that control certain genes.
Normally, the VDR interacts with a form of vitamin D to “turn on” the right genes to drive proper cell growth and differentiation. But interaction with certain genes degrades the active form of vitamin D, leading to cancer growth and a change in the area around the tumor that makes it less responsive to cancer drugs and immunotherapy.
A compound discovered by Alexander “Leggy” Arnold, a UWM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, prevents the degradation by blocking the interaction of certain genes.
“Initial studies with new drug candidates suggest that VDR can be a successful therapeutic target for some difficult-to-treat cancers,” Arnold said. “By using these newly discovered molecules, we can change the regulation of VDR target genes.”
Several new anti-cancer drugs in clinical trials are based on vitamin D. But, because VDR is also the “master regulator” of the body’s calcium. Arnold’s compounds alter the VDR’s action without interfering with calcium regulation needed for normal health.
Systems Oncology LLC is a machine learning-based biotechnology company that uses cognitive computing and multi-scalar systems modeling to mine massive datasets and uncover hidden therapeutic insights for cancer.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with pharmaceutical partners to translate this important new agent into a breakthrough cancer therapy,” said Spyro Mousses, CEO of Systems Oncology.
The UWM Research Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that provides research, entrepreneurship and innovation programs at UWM, has supported Arnold’s research and helped to commercialize it.