The amcure GmbH in Karlsruhe was awarded with the second place of the Cyber One Award on June 12th, 2012 for its new active substance against pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, the amcure GmbH was awarded the renowned special prize of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The four company founders of the young spin-off of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology work on the active substance AM001, which could open up new possibilities of treating cancer of the pancreas in the future.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and in 85 to 90 percent of cases it ends in death just a few months after the diagnosis. The reason for the late detection of parent tumor and metastases is the late set in of pain and other symptoms of patients. Often, pancreatic cancers are no longer operable at this stage. A further problem lies in the low effectiveness of common therapies in the treatment of cancer of the pancreas: “Angiogenesis inhibitors are used to stop the growth of tumors by ensuring insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients. Tumor cells and metastases of carcinoma of the pancreas, however, poorly respond to conventional angiogenesis inhibitors,” says Dr. Matthias Klaften, managing director of amcure.
The second managing director and head of the scientific department, Dr. Alexandra Matzke, identified the first-in-class active substance approach AM001 at the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics of the KIT and is now further developing it in the amcure team: “The special thing about AM001 is the highly selective addressing of malignant cells.” While a therapy with angiogenesis inhibitors could, so far, notdistinguish between benevolent and malignant cells, amcure’s development specifically addresses the tumor cells of the pancreatic cancer. Similar to a key for a lock AM001 docks onto the co-receptor CD44v6 and thereby prevents the transfer of signals for the building of new blood vessels around the tumor and the development of metastases. According to the results up to now, healthy tissue remains undamaged.
According to the founders, it will, however, still take a while before the medication is available on the market: “At the moment, we are optimizing the dosage and the length of stay of the active substance in the body. Then we will start with the clinical pre-studies and develop a treatment plan for patients.” In the case of positive results of the studies, AM001 could possibly also become usable for other diseases.