Ambryx is developing first-in-class cancer therapeutics that target the unique metabolism of cancer cells and its microenvironment. Cancer, embryonic, and cancer-associated fibroblast cells share similar metabolic reprogramming distinct from normal cells. Ambryx has identified novel regulators of embryogenesis/morphogenesis that cause rapid and selective death in these cell types.
Ambryx’s drug candidates are peptide-zinc complexes. Unlike typical peptides, these peptide-zinc complexes (less than 1500 daltons) have the combined advantages of small molecule and biologics drugs:
- Favorable oral bioavailability profile
- Low toxicity
- Selective and rapid apoptosis of cancer cells
Ambryx’s five lead drug candidates are peptide-zinc complexes identified from embryonic proteins. These modulators induce apoptosis in various cancer cell lines and CAFs significantly faster than standard chemotherapy and targeted drugs.
In addition to showing anticancer activity in animal models, two candidates also display promising therapeutic effects in a rheumatoid arthritis animal model. Cancer and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) share remarkably similar pathogenic pathways. In the synovium of RA patients, hyperplasia of fibroblast-like synoviocytes has features of tumor-like transformation including anchorage–independent growth, chronic inflammation, angiogenesis, and invasions to cartilage and bone. Since Ambryx compounds modulate fundamental molecular networks shared by various disease states, Ambryx drug candidates have potential applications in other therapeutic areas.
Ambryx’s drug portfolio is in pre-clinical development. AX-3, the crude mixture of the peptide drug candidates, were tested in a Phase I/II open label veterinary clinical trial in dogs with spontaneously occurring cancers. AX-3 showed significant efficacy against several cancer types and only transient mild toxicity was observed.
Ambryx’s lead candidates are currently being developed as single agent cancer therapeutics.