Aqualung Therapeutics Reports Key Biomarker in Invasive Prostate Cancer

Aqualung Therapeutics, an early-stage biotech company developing an anti-inflammatory therapeutic platform for patients with serious unchecked inflammatory disease, has published proof of concept studies in EBio Medicine suggesting eNAMPT as a potential biomarker for the severity of invasive prostate cancer, or PCa, and neutralizing eNAMPT as an effective therapeutic approach to limit PCa invasion and progression. 

Based on these findings, Aqualung has added Dr. Edwin M. Posadas to the Scientific Advisory Board.

Other than skin cancer, invasive prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Each year, there are greater than 160,000 new PCa cases and nearly 30,000 deaths. There is an unmet need to reduce PCa morbidity and mortality, a goal that requires identification of risk factors that influence the cancer’s escape from the gland and metastatic progression.

Innate immunity pathways involving locally produced and circulating chemokines/cytokines are known to be intimately involved in the progression to aggressive and advanced PCa. Aqualung Therapeutics identified extracellularly-secreted NAMPT as a key innate immunity regulator and potent inflammatory cytokine via binding to the Toll-like receptor 4. 

The EBio Medicine publication highlights several novel observations including the strong NAMPT expression in invasive prostate cancer tissues and the significant elevation of plasma eNAMPT in men with PCa–especially men with extraprostatic invasion, or PCa that has escaped the prostatic capsule.

The publication further demonstrates eNAMPT to be a key target amenable to eNAMPT-neutralizing biologic therapy to prevent PCa invasion. Therapeutic targeting of eNAMPT may antagonize and potentially delay the switch to aggressive, invasive disease in androgen deprivation therapy-resistant PCa and prevent progression.

“We are excited about findings conveyed in our EBio Medicine publication for several reasons. First, Aqualung may have identified a novel biomarker that alone, or potentially combined with PSA, may determine men at higher risk of developing metastatic PCa. Second, eNAMPT is obviously a novel, highly druggable PCa target for our humanized eNAMPT-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies ALT100/200, a priority for internal drug development” said CEO and founder Dr. Joe Garcia.

“Our antibody and biomarker platform could be a game changer for this patient group with potentially evolving metastatic disease,” Garcia said. “If we have a drug therapy to slow this progression based on neutralizing eNAMPT, this may prolong PCa confinement within the gland.”

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