Lung Cancer Day: Spotlight on Innovators

World Lung Cancer Day: Spotlight on Innovators


Conquering a Giant

As the world comes together to observe World Lung Cancer Day, Zymewire sheds light on the ongoing efforts of biotech and pharmaceutical companies in developing novel treatments for this devastating disease. Lung cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide, exceeding deaths from prostate, colon, and breast cancers combined. In order to change that, it’s imperative to explore emerging companies that are dedicated to revolutionizing lung cancer treatment.

In this article, we will delve into the groundbreaking work of Pdx Pharmaceuticals, EnFuego Therapeutics, and Scitech Development, as they strive to bring hope and improved outcomes to lung cancer patients.


Pdx Pharmaceuticals

Based in Portland, Oregon, Pdx is a discovery-stage company focused on researching & developing nanomaterials into drugs, primarily in the field of oncology. Spinning out of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) in 2010, Pdx has built a robust drug discovery pipeline, with two assets undergoing IND-enabling studies (AIRISE-02 and ARAC-02).

Having received funding from the National Cancer Institute already, the company is currently raising private capital to help them complete clinical trials by 2025. Most recently, they received $400,000 through an SBIR grant to pursue a novel lung cancer treatment, termed “PETTRA”.

PETTRA is a nanotherapeutic targeting EGFR+ lung tumors, delivering siRNA to Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), a key player in cell division and DNA repair. The suppression of PLK1 triggers G2/M cell cycle arrest and cell death, in addition to making them more susceptible to radiation. As such, PETTRA is being proposed as a radiation sensitizer in addition to a monotherapy against lung cancer.


EnFuego Therapeutics

While EnFuego may not have an active website yet, the stealthy biotech out of North Carolina has science worth paying attention to. The company was founded to turn “undruggable” cancer targets into, well, druggable ones, and they’re doing it using RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapeutics.
EnFuego recently received recognition from the National Cancer Institute and was awarded $275,645 thanks to an SBIR grant. The recognition comes thanks to their work with KRAS mutations, which play a common role in many cancer diagnoses. More specifically, they’re targeting the G12V KRAS mutation which makes up almost ¼ of all KRAS-associated lung cancer cases and cannot be addressed using currently available treatments.

Big names such as Amgen and Mirati are working using small molecules in an attempt to solve the same problem. EnFuego is taking the RNAi route because it allows the selective silencing of mutant transcripts without impacting wild types. This Phase 1 SBIR will be used for further testing to select a lead development candidate to be brought through IND-enabling studies.


SciTech Development

SciTech is a pharmaceutical company coming out of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. Their proprietary technology is helping advance cancer treatments through a nanoparticle delivery platform that maximizes the bioavailability of water-insoluble drugs.

In early June, SciTech announced that it had received $2.73M through an oversubscribed funding round. The startup’s lead candidate ST-001 is based on the commonly used API, fenretinide, initially discovered by J&J in the 1960s. Despite its potential, fenretinide never made any breakthroughs in the field of oncology because it was too difficult to achieve sufficient therapeutic blood levels in patients.
SciTech’s modified version of the well-known drug is fittingly called nanoFenretinide and has exhibited superior bioavailability and reduced infusion times. ST-001 has been approved for Phase 1 in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) in addition to T-cell lymphoma, and initial trials are set to begin in Q3 of 2023.


Breathing Easy

On this World Lung Cancer Day, we applaud the trailblazing efforts of companies like Pdx Pharmaceuticals, EnFuego Therapeutics, and SciTech Development, as they forge ahead with unique and unconventional approaches to bring novel lung cancer treatments to the table. Through their pioneering work with nanotherapeutics, RNA interference, and nanoparticle delivery platforms, these companies are breaking barriers and exploring uncharted territories in the battle against lung cancer. Their commitment to turning “undruggable” targets into viable therapeutic options and their focus on enhancing drug bioavailability showcase their determination to make a lasting impact on lung cancer patients’ lives. As the world unites in the fight against lung cancer, let us commend and support these visionary companies as they lead us closer to a future where lung cancer is no longer a formidable foe.


Authored by: Alec de la Durantaye, Product Marketing Manager, Zymewire

August 01, 2023 | Health & Science Days