SOURCE: SHAL Technologies

SHAL Technologies

April 21, 2015 09:30 ET

Promising New Developments in the Fight Against Cancer From SHAL Technologies

Biotech Awarded NIH Grant to Continue Testing New Drugs to Treat Lymphomas and Leukemias

LIVERMORE, CA--(Marketwired - April 21, 2015) - SHAL Technologies, an emerging biotech company in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been awarded a $1.5M Phase II SBIR grant by the National Cancer Institute of NIH to complete the preclinical testing of SH7139, the first in a series of promising new drugs for treating non-Hodgkin's and other B-cell derived lymphomas and leukemias.

SH7139 is based on the creation of small molecule therapeutics, called Selective High Affinity Ligands or SHALs. SHALs are designed to mimic the function of antibodies by recognizing unique sites on proteins and binding to them. They are first created by linking together several smaller molecules, called "recognition elements," that have been identified to bind nearby each other on the targeted protein's surface. When 2 or 3 recognition elements are combined to create a SHAL, the resulting molecule binds more strongly (one thousand to one million fold) and selectively to the protein than the individual elements.

The first drug SHAL Technologies plans to advance into clinical trials for treating non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in 2017, SH7139, was developed through a collaborative effort between the University of California Davis Medical Center and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The drug targets a specific protein, HLA-DR10, that is present in large quantities only on the surface of NHL cells.

SH7139 is unique among cancer therapeutics in that it not only targets and kills cancer cells that produce the HLA-DR10 protein, but it uses multiple mechanisms to bring about their death, thereby making it more difficult for the cancer cells to become resistant to the drug. When SH7139 binds to its target, the binding appears to trigger a cell-signaling event that induces the tumor cell to kill itself. As HLA-DR10 then shuttles back into the cell, it carries SH7139 with it. Once inside, the drug is metabolized by the cell and fragments are released that target and block pathways essential for the tumor cell's survival. 

SHALs represent a dramatic departure from the cancer drugs currently in use to treat advanced NHL. In addition to being highly selective in targeting and killing the tumor cells, SH7139 may provide the first cures for advanced NHL and related cancers. Another unusual feature of SH7139 is that the side effects experienced during treatment are expected to be minimal. If SH7139 is found to be effective in treating NHL in clinical trials, a combination of lower manufacturing costs and dosage required for treatment could reduce NHL treatment costs significantly.

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