February 23, 2021
“Rent” – An eloquent line from a show that captures the heart-wrenching anguish of a community of friends dealing with HIV/Aids. When the show was written in the early 2000s, the overall life expectancy was about 5 years post diagnosis. Many died much sooner. By the middle of the decade, science had begun to untangle the mysteries of the virus and life expectancy had doubled to roughly 10 years post diagnosis. Today, in much of the world, HIV/Aids is treated as a chronic, but survivable disease.
There has not been a similar trajectory for the prospects of surviving malignant brain tumors. In the mid- 1990s, the median length of survival was only 8–10 months. That has almost doubled over 30 years to 15 to 18 months. That increase is more a sign of how difficult the disease is to treat, rather than a sign of great progress. Perhaps a glimmer of hope can be found in this; essentially no glioblastoma patients in the mid- 1990s survived 5 years after their diagnosis; today perhaps 15% of patients survive 5 years.
At Curative Biotech, one of our early development assets is a first in class treatment for newly diagnosed glioblastomas, aimed at solid tumors in the brain. CURB906 is an antibody drug conjugate. This is a new modality for treating cancer that involves taking a monoclonal antibody and using the antibody to deliver an incredibly potent anticancer drug to kill the tumor cells. Our antibody is the worlds’ first fully humanized CD56 monoclonal antibody, licensed from the National Cancer Institute at NIH. The drug we will be delivering, often referred to as the “warhead” on our antibody, is a PBD class drug (pyrrolobenzodiazepine, and sorry, I will not make you try to pronounce that again). This is a relatively new class of drug. Technically, a DNA minor groove binding agent, PBDs bind and cross-link specific sites of DNA of a cancer cell in a way that cells find hard to detect or deal with. They block the cancer cells ability to divide and migrate. They do it in a way that is disruptive enough to cause cell death but appear “minor” enough to the cell to avoid various cell repair mechanisms, potentially avoiding the common phenomenon of emergent drug resistance.
The more potent a drug is, the better the job it can do of killing cancer. In general, PBD class drugs are anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times more potent than chemotherapy drugs. But the more potent a drug is the more dangerous it is to the healthy tissue it may encounter. This is particularly important in the brain where destroying healthy tissue can have devastating effects. Also, the stronger the drug is the more likely it is to cause “side effects” as it travels through a patient’s system. To mitigate both of these safety risks we will be delivering our antibody drug conjugate focally, that is directly to the tumor site during the surgery scheduled to remove the tumor. So not only are we pioneering the use of this antibody drug conjugate, but the route of administration as well. To help us develop this first in human approach we will be working with renown neurosurgeon Nick Boulis of Emory University. I have had the good fortune to work with Nick before on a therapy that required an equally difficult and demanding solution. There is no one better suited to developing a safe and effective delivery protocol for CURB906.
We are pushing ourselves to be ready for trials in 18 months. This is an extremely aggressive schedule, but this is an extremely aggressive cancer also. At Curative Biotech we are building this sense of urgency into our corporate DNA. It is of course too soon to know if CURB906 will be effective and safe in treating glioblastoma. Only rigorous controlled trials will reveal that. But the pieces are in place and we are ready to put them together.
We have other programs at Curative Biotech that also aim to provide treatment options where now there are none. In the coming weeks in this space I will explain what drives our excitement for each of those therapies.
How do you measure a year in the life? Whether patient, family member or caregiver we know that however you measure it, each day is precious. At Curative Biotech, we promise we will not waste any of them.