In March, the Cleveland-based drug development accelerator BioMotiv, and the University of Michigan, announced the launch of the new startup Nynex Therapeutics. The company, which will be based in Cleveland, will develop first-in-class therapeutics to inhibit deubiquitinases, which are a class of proteases upregulated in cancer and associated with tumor growth. These therapeutics, when developed, should result in the degradation of difficult to drug cancer pro-survival proteins.
Certain transcription factors (TFs) along with oncogenic proteins have long been implicated in tumorigenicity and tumor growth. Overexpression or activation of deubiquitinases can stabilize some of these TFs and oncogenic proteins by blocking their proteosomal degradation. Orally bioavailable drugs specifically designed to inhibit these deubiquitinases could, by allowing this degradation to resume, result in the destruction of these cancer-causing TFs. If successful, this could lead to safe and effective treatments for various forms of metastatic cancer.
“We are excited to partner with the founders and the University of Michigan to launch Nynex,” said Baiju Shah, CEO of BioMotiv. “Leveraging the industry’s interest in this area, we hope to swiftly develop this innovative technology into a breakthrough therapy for multiple oncology indications.”
The intellectual property at the core of Nynex, which was published in the February edition of Nature Communications, was developed at University of Michigan by lead scientist and former Research Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Nicholas Donato, Ph.D., Research Professor of Internal Medicine Moshe Talpaz, M.D., Research Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Co-Director of the Vahlteich Medicinal Chemistry Core Hollis Showalter, Ph.D., Assistant Research Scientist in Internal Medicine Luke Peterson, Ph.D., and former Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Matthew Young, Ph.D. Their scientific work at the University of Michigan was completed at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, and funded by the Harry J. Lloyd Charitable Trust, the National Institutes of Health, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
“Our researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a very promising pre-IND drug candidate effective in pre-clinical models of cancer,” said Kenneth Nisbet, U-M Associate Vice President for Tech Transfer. “We are pleased to work with Nynex, which will bring additional resources and significant drug development expertise to this partnership, and we are hopeful and optimistic that their team will translate this research from the University into a powerful drug approved for the treatment of cancer.”