National Center for Research and Development (NCBR) funds OncoArendi Therapeutics’ new research platform of innovative anticancer drugs targeting deubiquitinase proteins.

A proposal submitted by OncoArendi Therapeutics in the Innovative Development Operational Programme (POIR) call for proposals for funding a research project – “RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF DEUBIQUITINASE INHIBITORS IN ANTITUMOR IMMUNOTHERAPY”, was recommended for funding in the official list published by the National Center for Research and Development (NCBR). The total budget of the project is approx. 31 million PLN, with the amount of funding over 22 million PLN.

– The funding awarded by NCBR will allow us to launch another R&D project initiating the new deubiquitinase research platform, which will expand OncoArendi’s R&D pipeline of more advanced R&D programs in the chitinase and arginase platforms. The new platform comprises a group of promising biological targets in immuno-oncology allowing us to solidify our expertise in the most attractive and dynamic area of cancer treatment. The aim of the funded project is to develop a new, anti-cancer drug candidate for immunotherapy of multiple cancers. The competitive advantage of the new experimental drug over currently available therapies will be associated with its unique mechanism of action, safety and efficacy profile, especially when compared to chemotherapy and biologics. Inhibiting deubiquitinase (DUBs) is an innovative therapeutic approach, which complements and expands our expertise developed in the area of ​​arginase inhibitors. It is a natural direction for the growth and expansion of our research pipeline – says Dr Marcin Szumowski, President and CEO of OncoArendi Therapeutics.

Some deubiquitinase enzymes modulate the level of key proteins in the immune system response to cancer because they regulate the ubiquitination process and subsequent protein degradation. Ubiquitination is an essential process of protein marking for degradation in the organism necessary to activate the cellular “clean-up” system responsible  for regulating cell functioning, including multiplication, dying, immune response or antigen presentation. Excessive activity of deubiquitinase can disrupt normal ubiquitination process, which causes many diseases including cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. Inhibiting deubiquitinase hyperactivity restores correct body’s immune response to cancer.

In 2019 OncoArendi carried out pilot exploratory research aimed at blocking the DUBs targets. We were able to develop and validate several new screening assays and counterscreens based on natural deubiquitinase substrates. As a result an early lead structure was identified out of two classes of compounds, which appear to both stimulate the immune response to cancer cells and directly inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and promote  apoptosis. Within the project the company will enter the early lead optimization phase.