US firm Sierra Oncology, which is the licence holder of Sareum’s SRA737 checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) inhibitor cancer candidate, has made “strong progress” with its two clinical development programmes for the Chk1 inhibitor.
Chk1 controls a cancer cell's response to DNA damage, which could be caused by the disease itself or intentionally caused by chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Two Sierra studies ongoing, one to start soon
A phase I/II monotherapy trial – i.e. SRA737 on its own – of the drug in patients with advanced cancer was expanded by 170 people.
The other phase study, also phase I/II, sees SRA737 combined with low-dose gemcitabine, one of the most commonly prescribed chemotherapies.
This trial was modified to include 80 genetically defined patients in four cancer indications, with a target cohort of ovarian cancer patients replacing the originally proposed bladder cancer patients
The third trial of SRA737 in combination with niraparib, a PARP inhibitor which stops cancer cells from repairing themselves, in prostate cancer patients is expected to begin within the next few months.
Sierra is also in the process of designing a trial for SRA737 and immune checkpoint blockade, with preclinical data providing “evidence of synergy” for this combination.
Good internal progress, too
Sareum has also reported the “good progress” made with advancing its internal TYK2/JAK1 inhibitor programmes.
The company revealed earlier this week that it has selected a candidate molecule to take through the clinic which it thinks could become the new, "potentially best-in-class" treatment for autoimmune diseases.
SDC-1801 had shown “compelling activity” in disease models of psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, while AIM-listed Sareum also noted the potential for once-daily oral dosing and a good early safety profile.
The firm is also in the final stages of selecting a TYK2/JAK1 inhibitor targeting cancer indications.
On top of all that, at the start of summer Sareum regained the rights to a pre-clinical technology that it reckons could have the potential to treat acute myeloid leukaemia and other blood-borne cancers.
The Aurora+FLT3 kinase inhibitors were handed back by Hebei Medical University Biomedical Engineering Center (HMUBEC), a Chinese group, which encountered "ongoing issues relating to the intravenous formulation".
The plan is to find another partner for this programme while it focuses time and money on its TYK2 inhibitor candidates.
£1.4mln in the bank
The company ended the fiscal year with just under £1.40mln in the bank, having raised an additional £700,000 last November.
Investors who backed that funding round at 0.7p a share are now sitting on a small profit with the shares up to 0.75p in early deals on Tuesday.
As is common for companies at this formative stage of their development, Sareum was loss-making – to the tune of £1.47mln.