News | December 4, 2018

Small Molecule Drug - ETC-206 - A Novel, Highly Selective Anti-Cancer Drug - Acquired By AUM Biosciences

  • AUM has licensed global rights for ETC-206 in all indications from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR) Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) in Singapore
  • ETC-206 first in AUM's pipeline of novel targeted therapies
  • ETC-206's licensing is part of AUM's 'Asia to Global' approach to capture world­ wide oncology therapeutics market

AUM Biosciences (AUM), a Singapore headquartered oncology-focused biotechnology company, has licensed its first novel, highly selective anti-cancer drug, ETC-206 , from A*STAR's Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC). The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology.

AUM has licensed the global rights to develop, commercialise and manufacture ETC-206 in all indications. ETC-206 was discovered and developed through a collaboration between A*STAR 's Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) and Duke­ NUS Medical School (a partnership between Duke University School of Medicine and the National University of Singapore). It advanced into first-in-man trials in December 2016. Initial clinical studies suggest that ETC-206 is very well tolerated and could be used as a therapy across a range of liquid and solid tumour types.

The drug promises a more targeted approach by inhibiting the Mnk enzyme in cancer cells, which is a key player in promoting cancer growth when activated. This could lower mortality rates for cancer and improve quality of life for cancer patients compared to traditional chemotherapy, which kills cells in a less specific fashion and affects more than just the cancer cells.

"Due to low efficacy and steep costs associated with many cancer treatments , the demand for more precise anti-cancer treatments has become imperative. AUM's small molecule and biomarker driven approach allows us to implement innovative trial designs enabling "multiple shots on goal'', in cancer treatment," AUM's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Vishal Doshi said.

ETC-206 is the first in AUM's pipeline of novel targeted therapies with the potential to be developed both independently and in combination with other therapies. The drug's ability to isolate and target only cancerous cells promises a breakthrough opportunity globally.

"ETC-206 is a prime example of how A*STAR has been able to translate R&D into positive outcomes to create economic growth and enhance lives for Singaporeans . We look forward to working closely with more Singapore based enterprises such as AUM Biosciences as we continue to leverage our drug discovery and development capabilities to support the growth of the local biotech ecosystem in Singapore ." Said Dr Damian O'Connell, Chief Executive Officer of A*STAR's Experimental Therapeutics Centre.

"Duke-NUS scientists and researchers have led many discoveries with great potential for the welfare of people in Singapore and beyond," stated Dr. David Epstein, Director of Duke-NUS' Centre for Technology and Development (CTeD), and the School's Vice Dean for Innovation and Entrepreneurship , who is also an associate professor of the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Programme. "ETC-206 is an important accomplishment exemplifying Duke-NUS's mission of facilitating the translation of basic research into commercial entities and products. We are proud to partner with A*STAR in realizing this enterprising venture that was 'Made in Singapore' and is being taken forward by AUM , a Singapore-based startup. We look forward to more startups creating entrepreneurship opportunities in the sector."

ETC-206's licensing by AUM not only puts Singapore on the map, but also enables the company to be at the forefront of emerging oncology trends. This is a significant step towards its vision of "Asia to global" by accelerating the development of innovative and affordable medicines.

"We are now speaking with investors to accelerate ETC-206's development and our broader molecule acquisition roadmap. AUM will fund further clinical development and will be responsible for regulatory filings, and for clinical studies for this and future drugs ," Mr. Doshi commented.

As a future roadmap, AUM has a strategic focus of acquiring and developing promising small molecules targeted oncology assets to unlock their potential, including those that are de-prioritised or not progressed by their originators due to strategic and financial limitations in the healthcare industry. Its mandate of "No biomarker, No drug" serves to increase the probability of success.

Cancer prevalence in Asia is estimated at 17.4 million in 2018 , with about 8.8 million new cases every year, accounting for about half of the new global cancer cases. The number of new cases in Asia is expected to increase from 8.8 million in 2018 to 11.8 million by 2030 creating a huge unmet medical need in Asia.

Source: AUM Biosciences