Noxopharm’s science-driven strategy has led to the development of its Chroma™ technology platform. Our highly skilled R&D team has extensive expertise in the development of drug candidates based on a scaffold structure known as functionalised benzopyrans; a structure that is found in a range of medications.
Through methodically creating adaptations based on this scaffold structure, Noxopharm has generated a library of unique drug candidates that share novel bioactive properties to enhance anti-cancer activity. The majority of these valuable early-stage assets in the Chroma platform predominantly signal anti-cancer activity, with several of the drug candidates having the potential to block inflammation as well.
A number of molecules are being critically assessed in the Chroma platform. The most advanced is CRO-67, which has demonstrated a unique ‘dual-cell’ activity against pancreatic cancer and the surrounding barrier cells in preclinical studies using cells from patient tumours.
Tumours in the pancreas are surrounded by a dense barrier layer that make them more resistant to both chemotherapy and the body’s natural immune system. The cells in this barrier (known as CAF cells or cancer-associated fibroblasts) also promote the growth and spread of the cancer, meaning that this barrier makes pancreatic cancer particularly aggressive and difficult to treat. The challenge is that any anti-cancer treatment needs to get through the barrier layer and then to the tumour itself.
To address this challenge, UNSW Sydney has recently developed a world-first model of pancreatic cancer for research purposes, using cancer tissue samples surgically removed from pancreatic cancer patients. A recent study by UNSW applied the Noxopharm drug candidate CRO-67 to cancer samples in this model. After 12 days CRO-67 was shown to have dual-cell activity, killing both the cancer cells and the surrounding barrier cells.
This world-first study demonstrates CRO-67 as a novel dual-cell therapy, potently destroying both the tumour and its surrounding barrier. These highly promising results will now drive further studies to maximise the potential of this new approach to pancreatic cancer treatment.
Our team of scientists and collaborators have also discovered that various molecules under development in the Chroma platform are displaying anti-inflammatory properties with potential applications in the treatment of autoimmune disease and hyperinflammatory conditions through the blockade of a target known as TBK1.
TBK1 is a pivotal protein located downstream of multiple inflammatory triggers, which conveys inflammation signals to allow the release of inflammatory factors aimed at clearing infections. However, when excessive inflammation occurs, TBK1 activity can result in significant tissue damage. Noxopharm, along with our collaborator Hudson Institute of Medical Research, is investigating drug candidates that may inhibit TBK1 and could have applications in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as motor neurone disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes mellitus.
This excessive inflammation can also be seen in infections like COVID-19, leading to complications, hospitalisations and possibly long COVID. The Victorian government has granted Hudson Institute a $1.45 million grant to investigate this potential application for TBK1 inhibitors. Noxopharm, through its subsidiary Pharmorage, is named on the grant as Hudson Institute’s collaborator to commercialise any promising drug candidates generated by this research.