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Goodbye Bay Area, Stanford University Spinout Heads to Houston After Snagging $20 Million Grant



11/21/2016 6:26:56 AM

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Ruga Corporation Announces Move to Houston with $20 Million Grant from CPRIT and Name Change to Aravive Biologics

  • Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas award to support development of lead oncology candidate, Aravive-S6 (previously Ruga-S6)
  • Preclinical data with Aravive-S6 shows strong anti-cancer activity against AML and ovarian, pancreatic and breast tumors; IND filing planned for end of 2017

HOUSTON--()--Ruga Corporation today announced the company’s name change to Aravive Biologics, Inc., and the relocation of its business operations to Houston, Texas. The move follows the company’s award of a $20 million grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which is supporting the development of a novel drug candidate, Aravive-S6, as a potential treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and solid tumors including ovarian, pancreatic, and breast cancers.

“We are very pleased to be selected to receive this significant funding from CPRIT and look forward to building our business in Houston’s Texas Medical Center,” said Ray Tabibiazar, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Aravive Biologics. “Houston’s vibrant biomedical community is home to many of the top cancer researchers in the United States, including noted experts on AML, our lead hematologic cancer indication. We look forward to accessing this outstanding expertise and growing our presence within the local biomedical community as we advance Aravive-S6 into clinical trials.”

“Investing in Aravive Biologics’ clinical development program was an easy decision for CPRIT,” said Michael Lang, Chief Product Development Officer of CPRTI. “Aravive-S6 is an innovative compound that has exhibited strong preclinical proof-of-principal, and it addresses a critical unmet medical need. The company also has experienced management with an excellent track record in oncology drug development. Aravive team members are well positioned for success, and we welcome them to the Houston biomedical community.”

Aravive-S6 is a novel high-affinity, soluble Fc-fusion protein designed to block the activation of the GAS6-AXL signaling pathway by serving as a decoy that prevents the binding of GAS6 to the AXL receptor on the surface of tumor cells. The AXL receptor, when activated through GAS6 binding, has been shown to act as a “survival switch,” a key driver of invasiveness and metastasis, and a critical regulator of therapeutic resistance to cytotoxic chemotherapeutic drugs.

Aravive Biologics has robust and compelling data demonstrating the in vivo efficacy and tolerability of its lead drug candidate in preclinical models of ovarian, renal, breast, and pancreatic cancer, and AML. Aravive-S6 provides high specificity and selectivity for the AXL/GAS6 pathway that other anti-AXL and anti-GAS6 inhibitors have been unable to match; it has greater than 100-fold tighter affinity for GAS6 compared to other anti-AXL and anti-GAS6 antibody candidates in development. Aravive Biologics has also developed a proprietary complementary diagnostic tool that may enable the identification of patients with cancers exhibiting elevated GAS6 levels, which would allow the company to match its drug candidate to those patients most likely to benefit from therapy.

AML is a cancer that begins in bone marrow and affects cells intended to mature into different types of blood cells. Research shows that interaction between the AXL receptor and its GAS6 ligand leads to more severe and invasive cases of AML.

“As patients with AML tend to be older (over 60 years of age) and possibly also in poorer health, they are often unable to tolerate standard, intensive chemotherapy regimens and thus must undergo less rigorous treatment, said Amato Giaccia, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Aravive. ”We envision that Aravive-S6 might be administered either as a single agent or as a complement to standard chemotherapy that assists in reducing the survival of cancer cells, which have become “addicted” to AXL/GAS6 signaling, while attempting to achieve or maintain remission.”

Each year, approximately 19,950 new cases of AML are diagnosed, primarily in adults, and about 10,430 deaths from the disease, nearly all in adults. About 35% of AML cases exhibit active GAS6/AXL signaling, an incidence which may potentially qualify Aravive-S6 for Orphan Drug Designation.

About Aravive Biologics, Inc.

Aravive Biologics is a privately held, late pre-clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel, highly selective cancer therapies that treat serious malignancies while sparing normal healthy cells. The company’s lead program is focused on the GAS6/AXL pathway, where activation appears to play a critical role in multiple types of cancer malignancies by promoting tumor metastasis and cell survival. Aravive Biologics has generated strong preclinical data for its lead drug candidate, Aravive-S6, in both acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and solid tumors including ovarian, pancreatic, and breast cancers. The company is based in Houston, Texas, and receives support from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas. For more information, please visit our website at www.aravive.com.

Forward Looking Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release include, without limitation, statements regarding the timing of the IND filing, the expected role of the Aravive-S6 Fc-fusion protein in blocking the activation of the GAS6-AXL signaling pathway and intended use of Aravive Biologics’ complementary diagnostic tool to identify patients with cancers exhibiting elevated GAS6 levels. Words such as "may," “believe,” "will," "expect," "plan," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend" and similar expressions (as well as other words or expressions referencing future events, conditions or circumstances) are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve a number of unknown risks, assumptions, uncertainties and factors that are beyond Aravive Biologics' control including the ability of Aravive-S6 to serve as a decoy that prevents the binding of GAS6 to the AXL receptor on tumor cells and the ability of Aravive Biologics’ companion diagnostic tool to identify patients with cancers exhibiting elevated GAS6 levels. All forward-looking statements are based on Aravive Biologics' expectations and assumptions as of the date of this press release. Actual results may differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, Aravive Biologics expressly disclaims any responsibility to update any forward-looking statement contained herein, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Contacts

for Aravive Biologics, Inc.
Danielle Malloy
Director, Corporate Operations
Info@aravive.com
or
Joan E. Kureczka, 415-821-2413, Mob: 415-690-0210
Joan@bioscribe.com;


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