11 Oct Cancer treatment advances as trials show no harm to mice
Quintessence Biosciences, Inc., has been tested on lab mice with no apparent harm, company Vice President Laura Strong said at a recent conference. Information supporting this conclusion was presented on October 7 at BioContact Quebec 2004.
Strong was optimistic of the molecule’s ability to inhibit tumor growth in people. Like many FDA approved chemotherapy treatments, the company’s proprietary EVade Ribonucleases are effective at killing cancer cells. But Quintessence’s therapies seem to have gentler effects on animals.
Successful results in animal tests suggest the treatment will be effective in humans as well, but more tests are necessary to be sure, Strong said. If it works, it could be a supplement for existing treatments.
“We definitely anticipate that the ribonucleases will be [and] can be used with chemotherapy and radiation,” Strong said.
The therapeutics under development at Quintessence are based on technology created by Ronald Raines, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a company founder. The technology, patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and licensed to the company, allows certain human digestive proteins to be converted into powerful anti-cancer agents.
“We believe that the human (mammalian) origin of the compounds contributes to their high tolerance by animals,” company President Ralph Kauten said.
Prior to joining Quintessence in 2002, Kauten held management positions in several start-up biotechnology businesses in Dane County. He co-founded PanVera Corporation in 1992 and managed the company until it was acquired in 2001. Kauten was a key player in the founding and early management of Promega Corporation in 1979 and Mirus Corporation in 1995. All of these companies but Promega are located in University Research Park.
A theraputics company offers a change of pace for Kauten. His previous experiences involved biotechnology tool companies. Kauten, however, believes that the cancer therapeutics market provides greater opportunities for early- stage companies.
“There are many established tool companies and starting another highly successful reagent company would be a far more challenging task than it was in the past,” Kauten said.
Aside from addressing a different market, building a therapeutic company requires more capital and management expertise to guide the products through clinical trials. Within a year of accepting his position at Quintessence, Kauten closed on a round of private funding to finance the development of the company’s EVade Ribonucleases.
He has assembled an accomplished team to navigate the clinical trial process: Howard Bailey, assistant professor of medicine at UW-Madison; Anthony Clemento, Jr., former vice president for scientific and regulatory consulting for Covance Laboratories; and Paul Sondel, a professor of pediatrics and human oncology at UW Medical School and program leader for immunology and immunotherapy at the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center.