Ons 1 dec / År 39 / Nr 4 2021

A Small Peptide Inhibits Tumour Metastasis

Innovative research by one of the founders of WntResearch has shown that a small peptide can interact with cancer cell motility and thereby inhibit cancer from metastasising.

Most people that die from cancer, die from metastases. So, there’s an urgent need for a treatment that specifically counteracts metastasis.
WntResearch develops a new type of cancer pharmaceutical, based on innovative research that indicates that the endogenous protein Wnt-5a plays an important role for the tumour cells’ ability to move and spread to other places in the body (metastasis).
Professor Tommy Andersson and his research group at Lund University has discovered that in some cancer diseases low levels of Wnt-5a protein in the primary tumour indicates high level of motility and metastasis.
Tommy Andersson co-founded WntResearch based on his research, and patented peptides that could interfere with the Wnt-5a signalling.
”In pre-clinical test models our lead candidate, the agonist Foxy-5, has been able to reduce the tumour cells’ ability to move, thereby inhibiting metastasis. A completed phase I study indicates a positive safety profile and pharmacokinetics as well as early indications of biological activity. The project is currently in a phase 1b study on patients with colon, prostate or breast cancer. So far, the results are promising and we’re planning to launch a phase II study during 2017,” says Henrik Lawaetz, MD and CEO of the company.
”Foxy-5 is the first substance of its kind in this class of pharmaceuticals and presents a new mode of action. Wnt-5a is a complex protein with 360 amino acids, whereas Foxy-5 is a hexapeptide with only 6 amino acids. It seems to have a very low toxicity and this makes it easy to combine with other pharmaceutical cancer therapies,” he adds.

Looking for Business Partners
The company is also developing Box-5, which has an antagonistic effect to Wnt-5a.
“The most extensively studied example of a tumour that could be treated by blocking Wnt-5a signalling is malignant melanoma. We will therefore further characterise the mechanisms by which the Box-5 antagonist functions and explore its ability to impair malignant melanoma cell migration and metastasis in vivo.”
Wnt Research has quite an extensive patent protection covering many applications of their substances and is currently looking for business partnerships.
”We are especially interested in partnering with pharmaceutical companies to develop therapeutic products from our platform to address the common cancer types previously mentioned,” says Henrik Lawaetz, CEO of WntResearch.

WntResearch is a very virtual and flexible organisation working closely with their CRO and regulatory consultants, as well as manufacturing and laboratory functions all over Europe.
WntResearch was established in 2007 and is since 2011 listed at Aktietorget.