• Photo: Umeå University Mediabank

Novel treatment strategy for aggressive prostate cancer

The project aims to develop an antibody that could improve Clinical outcomes for a large group of patients with prostate cancer. The approach is an antibody that is expected to have much less side effects than current treaments for this indication.

Market need and potential

More than 1.1 million cases of prostate cancer (PC) were recorded in 2012, representing 15 percent of all new cancer cases in men. PC is the second cause of cancer-related deaths in Sweden. Today’s treatment strategies for advanced disease blocks action of androgens, or by effects on microtubule stability, preventing proliferation of cells.

Significant improvement has been made for management of PC and most patients with early-stage localized PC can be cured. However, for patients that progress to castration resistant PC (CRPC), the prognosis is still poor, as we can’t predict the progression of PC, or prevent and efficiently treat aggressive, metastatic castration-resistant PC (mCRPC).

Therefore there is a high unmet need for new therapies that prolong overall survival for CRPC patients. TGFβ is a cytokine which promote PC progression and represents a novel drug target for PC. The estimated global market for future treatment strategies for PC is § 8.3 billion at year 2023. Development of effective drugs for mCRPC could result in profit on a rapidly expanding global market which can be reinvested in a drug-discovery company.

Our solution

High levels of TGFβ in PC patients correlates to poor survival, thus kinase inhibitors of TβRI is regarded as a promising new treatment for PC, but is expected to have severe side-effects. We have discovered that TGFβ cause proteolytic cleavage of TβRI in cancer cells.

Thereby the intracellular domain of TβRI is released and enters the nucleus, to promote transcription of pro-invasive genes. We will develop human recombinant antibodies that by steric hindrance prevent proteolytic cleavage of TβRI in cancer cells. Our approach does not affect the TβRI kinase activity, thus significantly reducing risk of unwanted side effects.

Competitive advantages

  1. Unique and specific
  2. Less side effects
  3. Better life quality
  4. Expected to increase survival


Competition or alternatives

Although five new drugs for treatment of mCRPC have been launched on the market since 2010, the new drugs have limited effect on overall survival of the patients, and at best they extend the lifespan by several months compared to previous treatment standards.

According to the GlobalData database there are 1103 products in pipeline for the indication prostate cancer (Sept 2016). The target for the majority of the 14 ongoing Phase III trials for prostate cancer is the androgen-signalling pathway, but other pathways are also being targeted. Of the 550 active studies, approximately 11% are based on antibodies.

Current status

Ongoing evaluation if recombinant human antibodies can prevent cleavage of TβRI and thereby oncogenic signals leading to invasion (in vitro) and metastasis (in vivo). Need and competition analysis support the need and that the project has potential on the market. There is freedom to operate for patenting monoclonal antibodies.

Umeå Biotech Incubator (UBI)
Box 7995, SE-907 36 Umeå, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)90- 15 49 70
Mail: info@ubi.se