Shasqi using click chemistry to target cancer

cancer tumor tumour

Shasqi, Inc., whose mission is to revolutionize cancer treatment with click chemistry, has entered into a research collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Enterprise Innovation Inc. 

Through the collaboration, Shasqi will apply its tumor-targeted Click Activated Protodrugs Against Cancer (CAPAC) platform to the development of new cancer therapies.

Shasqi’s CAPAC platform relies on chemistry, not biology, for activation of drugs at the tumor. The platform is made up of two separate components: a tumor-targeting agent and a cancer therapeutic. These come together at the site of the tumor, and the cancer therapeutic is activated via click chemistry, a Nobel Prize winning technology. 

Using this platform, Shasqi is targeting high doses of cancer drugs directly to the site of the tumor, while minimizing toxicity to healthy cells. Shasqi is the first company to use click chemistry in humans.

“This is a compelling opportunity to expand our platform,” said José M. Mejía Oneto, founder and chief executive officer of Shasqi. 

“We are excited to collaborate and apply click chemistry for potential new therapies in areas of significant unmet medical need.”

The use of click chemistry to activate cancer drugs at the tumor has been clinically validated. In a phase 1 study, click chemistry was used to activate a dose of doxorubicin that is 12-times a conventional dose, with a favorable toxicity profile. Tumor localization of click chemistry was achieved through an intratumorally injected biopolymer. A phase 2a study is currently enrolling patients with soft tissue sarcoma and head and neck cancer.

The collaboration will focus on Shasqi’s intratumorally injected biopolymer (SQL70) and a co-development committee has been formed with the aim of identifying the next clinical candidate.

“This marks the start of Shasqi’s ambition to advance our platform and collaboratively develop the next generation of tumor-targeted therapies, expanding on the foundation built by antibody drug conjugates,” said Mukul Agarwal, chief business officer at Shasqi. 

“The reliance on chemistry, not biology for drug activation, allows for the use of small molecules, peptides, and antibody fragments to target tumor antigens, creating unprecedented flexibility.”

About Shasqi and CAPAC

Shasqi, which is a clinical-stage biotech company located in San Francisco, uses click chemistry to target high doses of cancer drugs directly to the site of the tumor while minimizing toxicity to healthy cells, potentially improving the therapeutic index.

Over the past decade, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) have transformed tumor-targeted drug delivery. CAPAC builds on this foundation, changing what’s possible with an approach that expands on the advances achieved by ADCs. Shasqi has developed an expansive and diverse library of antigen targeting agents and cancer therapeutic payloads. These are decoupled from each other and reunited at the site of the tumor via a click chemistry reaction.

The company opened the phase 2 part of its phase 1/2a clinical study to further assess SQ3370 in anthracycline-naïve patients in September, 2022. 

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