Bessor Pharma

Bessor Receives STTR Grant for Therapeutic to Treat Chemotherapy-Induced Kidney Damage


Framingham, MA, September 23, 2014 – Bessor Pharma has received a $219,000 Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer grant (STTR) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to develop a new therapeutic to prevent and treat kidney damage induced by the widely used chemotherapeutic agent, cisplatin, the company said today. The grant, which supports a collaboration with Dr. Gary Desir, Chairman of Medicine at Yale, has the potential lead to a therapeutic that improves patient outcomes by allowing patients to receive a full course of cisplatin, and potentially other cancer chemotherapies.

Cisplatin is one of the most widely used chemotherapies. It is a component in half of the combination chemotherapy cocktails used for cancers, including bladder cancer, cervical cancer, non-small lung cancer, ovarian cancer, malignant mesothelioma, testicular cancer, and carcinoma of the head and neck. However, kidney toxicity severely limits the use of cisplatin and other platinum-based drugs. Twenty five to thirty five percent of patients need to reduce cisplatin doses or stop otherwise effective therapy or risk chronic kidney injury and kidney failure. There are currently no effective drugs to prevent or reduce this toxicity.

The grant is aimed at developing a peptide mimic of a naturally-occurring hormone, renalase, linked to kidney injury and other acute tissue-damaging conditions. Discovered by Dr. Desir, renalase is produced in the kidneys, pancreas and other tissues and it can function as a survival factor by acting through a specific pathway to prevent programmed cell death. Dr. Desir and colleagues have shown in murine models that renalase deficiency is associated with dramatically more severe cisplatin-mediated acute renal injury, elevated plasma creatinine – a marker of renal injury – and chronic renal injury. They have also shown in murine models that administration of recombinant renalase ameliorates cisplatin induced acute kidney injury.

The grant is aimed at testing renalase peptides that mimic renalase’s activity, based on an understanding of the site on the renalase molecule responsible for pro-survival signaling. The peptides have potential advantages over the full renalase protein, including reduced potential for immunogenicity, more selective activity, and ease of manufacturability.

In the grant the researchers will evaluate several candidate peptides in models of cisplatin-induced kidney injury and select a lead candidate to advance towards clinical trials.

About Bessor Pharma
Bessor Pharma is utilizing an innovative technology/business model for new drug development and value creation, with a focus on translating opportunities from university laboratories into proof-of-concept or clinical-ready packages for the pharma/biotech industry. The Company, which has unique skills, connectivity and capital markets sophistication, is forging an ecosystem of academic and industry partners as key stakeholders facilitating translational R&D. Bessor is differentiated by its: aligned team with an unparalleled track record in drug development; operational progress; and unique collaborative partnerships with universities and investigators, fueling an innovative pipeline of highly needed drugs.