KYAN Therapeutics Announces Collaboration with Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology for Accelerated Drug Discovery and Development of Nucleic Acids
SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 19 August 2021 - KYAN Therapeutics, Inc. (KYAN), a developer of optimised therapeutics, and the Agency of Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR)'s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), a premier cell and molecular biology institute, have entered into a collaboration to discover and develop next-generation nucleic acid therapeutics for oncology. The aim is to develop specific drug combinations that can achieve high clinical response rates and elicit durable responses. Nucleic acid therapeutics is an emerging field of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA)-based therapies that are able to treat diseases by inducing long lasting effects by targeting the genes in the genome. This means more effective treatments for diseases such as cancers. In particular, splice-switching oligonucleotides (SSOs), being amenable to complete chemical modifications for in vivo stability and specificity, possess superior specificity and lower toxicity than conventional small molecule drugs, and exhibit more predictable drug treatment and response compared to other nucleic acid modalities. Leveraging on both parties' expertise and proprietary platform technologies, the collaboration tackles the challenges in identifying and prioritising effective drug target combos, and developing therapeutics that are able to selectively affect a particular type of cells leading to a desirable effect. KYAN brings to the collaboration, proprietary combination design technology and expertise in cancer therapy, that has been validated in humans and across multiple diseases. A team led by Dr Dave Keng Boon Wee, Principal Investigator, at IMCB, has developed an accurate rational design platform empowering an unprecedented speed of identifying and optimisation of highly specific and effective SSOs, which will be useful to speed up the drug discovery and the development process. Leveraging IMCB's extensive experience in optimising SSOs for high specificity and efficacy leading to clinical translation, IMCB is well positioned to provide clinically ready SSOs for further development. "Tailoring the right drug combinations is key for better patient outcomes. We look forward to working with KYAN to implement the drug target combinations by discovering and developing precise RNA therapeutics," stated Dr Wee. "This could potentially open up treatment avenues for more than 50 per cent of cancer patients that have not responded to existing therapies, leading to better health outcomes. The partnership also helps to solidify Singapore's position as a global innovation hub." With IMCB's expertise in the SSO discovery process and KYAN's accurate and efficient computational optimisation platform, the collaboration has already yielded novel insights into how to develop more effective synthetic lethality treatment approaches. IMCB and KYAN will synergize their efforts to develop new classes of nucleic acid therapeutics towards difficult to treat gastrointestinal cancers, beginning with liver cancer. By focusing on cancers with high prevalence in Asia, this collaboration seeks to transform how cancer is treated both in Singapore and abroad. "Being the medical hub of Asia, we hope that this collaboration could identify alternative treatment approaches especially for cancers like liver cancer, which has high prevalence in this region but limited therapeutic options. Having easy access to liver cancer patient samples in Singapore would aid in stratifying potential patient responders based on the identified optimal combination of RNA therapeutics" adds Dr Masturah Rashid, Head of Research and Development at KYAN Therapeutics.