Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) and Mirati Therapeutics Inc. - a late-stage targeted oncology company - today announced that Mirati will contribute a $4 million grant to SU2C to develop new approaches to treat patients with KRAS mutant cancers, as a part of the SU2C Catalyst® program.
The research will focus on cancer types with unmet medical needs, and the application of tumor-agnostic strategies and molecular testing to address those needs. Certain cancers can sometimes have mutations in the KRAS gene, which makes a protein involved in cellular growth and death. In KRAS mutant cancers, that protein can cause cancers to grow and spread. KRAS proteins were once considered undruggable, but recent research advances have resulted in the identification and development of investigational drugs against cancers that have specific KRAS mutations. Preliminary data from these investigational drugs have demonstrated early signs of clinical activity and studies are ongoing.
The grant from Mirati will leverage the SU2C Catalyst innovative research process, which uses funding and materials from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic and medical devices industries to accelerate research on cancer prevention, detection and treatment. The research will explore new treatment strategies with a KRASG12C inhibitor currently being developed by Mirati.
The SU2C Catalyst program encourages a collaborative yet nimble and transparent process that accelerates the pace of research and identifies new or unexpected uses for cancer drugs and technologies. Combined with our rigorous review and milestone-driven process, the program provides a unique framework with the objective to get treatments to patients as quickly and safely as possible."
Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Chair of Stand Up To Cancer's Scientific Advisory Committee and an Institute Professor at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
SU2C's Catalyst program began in 2016, with contributions from industry supporters Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Through the program, companies donate funds to collaborative research studies, in which use of the companies' products and materials is strongly encouraged. Those materials might include new pharmaceutical compounds that companies are developing or approved agents that can be investigated for other uses. A primary goal of SU2C Catalyst is to encourage collaborative research between academics and companies and shorten the time it takes to get new treatments to patients.
"We are excited to collaborate with Mirati Therapeutics and are thankful for their contribution to the SU2C Catalyst program," said Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, CEO of Stand Up To Cancer. "The opportunity to test the utility of KRAS inhibitors in several different cancer types is a great example of SU2C's cancer-agnostic approach to research."
"We are proud to support the SU2C Catalyst program and the innovative research it makes possible," said Joseph Leveque, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer, Mirati Therapeutics, Inc. "So much progress has been made in understanding and treating cancers through collaborative research. Industry and academic scientists, working together, offer the best chance to move ideas forward that can make a real difference for patients."
As a part of the collaboration with Mirati, SU2C will convene a day-long innovation summit to bring together experts in KRAS signaling, clinical trial design, tumor agnostic approaches to cancer therapy development and other disciplines. The summit will be headed by members of SU2C's scientific leadership team as well as Mirati representatives. These experts will consider the most pressing research needs in the field and define a grants process that provides a pathway for applicants, and the eventual grantees, to address those issues. Attention will be given to the current state of KRAS genetic testing in different cancer types and approaches that may be considered to appropriately expand testing both across tumor types and among traditionally underserved and minority populations.