DALLAS, HANOVER, N.H., and HOUSTON, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Reata Discovery, Inc. ("Reata") announced the completion of a license agreement with Dartmouth College and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, providing Reata with exclusive worldwide rights to a promising new class of anticancer compounds. The company has selected a clinical candidate, designated RTA 401, for advanced development and intends to initiate clinical testing of RTA 401 in 2005. First synthesized by investigators at Dartmouth College and developed in cooperation with M. D. Anderson and the National Cancer Institute, RTA 401 (also known as CDDO) and its analogues are based on compounds found in medicinal plants, but have much greater potency than these natural products. The compounds have been widely studied at leading centers of cancer research and shown to have a unique profile of antitumor, anti- inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties.
"These exciting compounds are an important addition to the Reata product pipeline," said Warren Huff, President and Chief Executive Officer of Reata. "They are novel targeted therapies with first-in-class potential, offering the prospect of effective treatment of a broad array of cancers and reduced toxicity compared to standard cancer treatments. We are pleased to be collaborating with Dartmouth and M. D. Anderson in the further development and clinical testing of these promising drugs."
Extensive studies, reported in more than thirty publications and abstracts, have shown that RTA 401 and its analogues induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a wide variety of cancer cells but are significantly less toxic to normal cells. In cancer cell lines, treatment with these compounds significantly reduces expression of apoptosis resistance factors and growth-promoting factors, while increasing expression of proapoptosis factors and growth-inhibiting factors. RTA 401 and its analogues have shown significant activity in animal models of solid tumors and hematological cancers and were highly active against cancer cells taken from myeloma and leukemia patients who were unresponsive to standard and targeted therapies. The compounds have also shown potent anti-inflammatory activity in cell and animal studies, suggesting they may have a role in cancer prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases.
"We are very happy that chemical compounds invented by Michael Sporn, the Oscar M. Cohn '34 Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine at the Dartmouth Medical School, in collaboration with Gordon Gribble, Dartmouth professor of chemistry, and Tadashi Honda, research assistant professor of chemistry, will be brought to a well-designed clinical trial," said Alla Kan, Director of the Dartmouth Technology Transfer Office. "Our collaboration with Reata and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is a perfect example of what academic technology transfer should be -- implementation of ideas conceived in the university laboratories into practice by an industrial partner for the public good. We are very hopeful that the drugs based upon the CDDO compounds will save numerous lives."
"Years of scientific collaboration between Dr. Michael Andreeff, Chief of the Section of Molecular Therapy and Hematology at M. D. Anderson, Dr. Marina Konopleva, Assistant Professor of Bone Marrow Transplantation, and their colleagues at Dartmouth have resulted in the preclinical development of these compounds into valuable intellectual property," said Kevin S. Casement, Director of Technology Assessment and Licensing at M. D. Anderson. "The subsequent business partnership between M. D. Anderson and Dartmouth has enabled a successful technology transfer. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Reata to bring these compounds to the clinic so that in the future we may have new drugs to benefit patients around the world."
Reata Discovery, Inc. is a development-stage company focused on the advancement of novel treatments for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Founded in 2002, Reata is developing five distinct classes of cancer drugs licensed from UT Southwestern Medical Center, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dartmouth College, and the National Cancer Institute. The company's most advanced product, RTA 744, is expected to enter clinical trials for treatment of primary brain cancer in late 2004. Clinical testing of additional products is expected to begin in 2005 and early 2006. Reata is also using a proprietary drug screening platform to identify potential breakthrough treatments for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Alzheimer's disease.
Reata Discovery, Inc.