News Feature | April 28, 2014

Sentinel Oncology and Oncothyreon To Collaborate On Cancer Drugs

By Cyndi Root


Sentinel Oncologyannounced in a press release that it has agreed to collaborate with Oncothyreon. The two companies will conduct drug discovery on Sentinel’s Checkpoint Kinase 1 (Chk1) program. Oncothyreon will fund research at Sentinel’s facilities, provide milestone and royalty payments, and receive exclusive marketing rights for any compounds developed and approved by regulatory authorities. Bob Boyle, CEO of Sentinel said, “We are delighted that Oncothyreon has recognized the value of our Chk1 program. It is an exciting target, and we look forward to capitalizing on Oncothyreon’s expertise in order to drive the program forward into clinical studies.”

Sentinel’s Checkpoint Kinase 1 (Chk1) Program

Sentinel has developed a series of Chk1 kinase inhibitors that show promise in chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The Chk1 inhibitors sensitize tumors to the DNA damaging action of these commonly used cancer treatments. With Chk1 treatment, patients can take lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation. Lower doses can mean fewer side effects.

Treatment Resistance

Treatment resistance is another common problem with chemotherapy and radiation and leads to reduced outcomes in patients. While cancer chemotherapy is increasingly sophisticated, no treatment is 100 percent effective yet. Cancer drug resistance is due to many factors, including genetic variations and differences in individuals. More often, the specific type of cancer carries its own resistance, but with treatment, acquired resistance becomes another problem.

Treatment resistance often occurs due to cell death, transporters that eject anticancer drugs from cells, and other drug-detoxifying mechanisms. Recent studies have uncovered mechanisms that may circumvent resistance and improve cancer drug effectiveness. Selectively sensitizing tumors to DNA damaging therapies like Sentinel’s Chk1 treatment, offers hope in killing cancer while preserving normal cells.

Oncothyreon’s Pipeline

In addition to its Chk1 inhibitors to be developed with Sentinel, Oncothyreon has other cancer drugs in its pipeline. Tecemotide (L-BLP25) is a cancer vaccine for cancer cells that express MUC-1, a commonly overexpressed cancer protein found in colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Oncothyreon is developing Tecemotide with Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany (Merck).