Curie-Cancer and DNA Therapeutics partner

The ongoing collaboration will aim to provide a new class of therapeutic cancer products to patients, including those who are resistant to conventio...

|Mar 8|magazine17 min read


The ongoing collaboration will aim to provide a new class of therapeutic cancer products to patients, including those who are resistant to conventional therapies.
Initial clinical results are encouraging
The first molecule based on Dbait technology, DT01, is currently being assessed in combination with radiation therapy, in a Phase I clinical trial for approximately 20 patients with cutaneous metastatic chemotherapy-resistant melanoma. DT01 is the result of the partnership between Curie-Cancer and DNA Therapeutics. Dr. Christophe Le Tourneau, head of early-phase clinical trials at the Institut Curie and principal investigator for this trial, has already treated the first patients with this unique class of drugs.
Initial results indicate that:

  • Cancers that are resistant to conventional therapies, including advanced-stage melanoma, can be treated with Dbait technology
  • DT01 is effective and very well-tolerated in combination with radiation therapy
  • DT01 has a high potential for development, pending validation by other early-phase clinical trials, particularly in combination with chemotherapy for advanced-stage cancer

The full results from Phase I are expected within the next year.
Dbait, a new class of cancer drugs
Cancer cells can easily repair damage incurred in their DNA from conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A proposal has been made to limit this ability to repair by inhibiting an enzyme involved in the process. “There are multiple DNA repair pathways but there is no single enzyme that is common to all repair pathways,” says Marie Dutreix, CNRS research director at the Institut Curie. “In addition to being effective, the therapeutic approach should also be non-toxic to healthy cells. With Dbait we have a very unique approach.”
“Instead of targeting a specific enzyme of a repair pathway, Dbait works upstream of all repair pathways with regards to detecting damage caused by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. By disrupting the localization of the site of this damage, Dbait prevents any repair and kills cancer cells when they divide. What’s noteworthy is that the specific characteristics of cancer cells make them more vulnerable to the effects of Dbait than healthy cells, ensuring that the latter do not die,” says Marie Dutreix.
Curie-Cancer alongside DNA Therapeutics throughout the entire research process
To support this highly promising clinical research program, DNA Therapeutics and Curie-Cancer will focus their work on five key areas:

  • Further understanding of the Dbait mechanisms of action, to better explain the lack of toxicity of these inhibitors on normal tissue
  • Characterize the most responsive tumors as well as the most efficacious combinations with standard therapies to prepare for future clinical trials
  • Identify potential resistance mechanisms to Dbait
  • Identify predictive biomarkers for responding to Dbait
  • Develop second-generation Dbait molecules with improved pharmacokinetic properties

“We find all the expertise and support that we need from Curie-Cancer,” says Prof. Jian-Sheng Sun, CEO and founder of DNA Therapeutics. “The reputation of the Institut Curie, in terms of the quality of its fundamental and clinical research, speaks for itself. However, the continued support, even during difficult times, from Curie-Cancer and its ability to apply complementary expertise throughout the development process of a drug have definitely contributed the most to our success. While we are in the clinical assessment stage, Curie-Cancer is ready to launch, in partnership with Marie Dutreix and ourselves, a translational research program to support our efforts. The results of this program will be crucial in shortening time-to-market of our product in the best possible conditions.”
“The Institut Curie is pleased with this long-term partnership, which started at the fundamental research stage and continues today to the clinical research stage. Seeing a drug developed in our laboratory then become available to our patients is immensely rewarding. We look forward to the results of the current assessments and hope that this new class of drug can soon be offered to more patients,” says Damien Salauze, director of Curie-Cancer. “Supporting a French SME in its development and seeing these efforts rewarded are another source of satisfaction. This is another example of the values enshrined in the Institut Carnot label we received from the French government in 2011 for our commitment to providing practical solutions for our industry partners and ultimately, for patients."
About Curie-Cancer
Curie-Cancer is the body responsible for developing Institut Curie’s industry partnership activities. It oversees the institute’s existing industry partnerships as well as areas of high potential interest to industry partners. Institut Curie’s 1,200 researchers provide the high level of expertise in oncology required to collaborate with industry partners in creating and subsequently developing cancer therapies.
Curie-Cancer management has extensive industry experience and can call upon a vast pool of scientists involved in basic and clinical research. In 2011, Curie-Cancer was awarded the ‘Institut Carnot’ label by the French government, which recognizes excellence and involvement in research partnerships.
About Institut Curie
Institut Curie is a private foundation founded in 1909 by Marie Curie, the first woman Nobel prize-winner and the first double Nobel prize-winner. It is the leading comprehensive cancer center (combining research and patient care) in Europe. Institut Curie’s research center and hospital employs 3,200 scientists, physicians, nurses, technicians and administrative staff. The institute’s current objectives include increasing the proportion of research programs carried out in partnership with industry so that research results can lead to faster availability of products and services for the benefit of patients. 
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About DNA Therapeutics
Founded in June 2006 as a spin-off of four French research institutions led by the Institut Curie, DNA Therapeutics is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. The headquarters are located in the Genopole biocluster at Evry, near Paris, France. The company develops a new class of targeted drugs addressing cancer resistance to conventional cancer therapies, based on an original concept named ‘Dbait’. This innovative therapeutic approach is designed to fully inhibit DNA repair activities – a key mechanism by which cancer cells escape the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Its lead product - DT01 - has already shown good tolerance and anti-tumor activity in combination with radiotherapy in patients. The ability of DT01 to improve the efficacy of cancer treatment without additional toxicity in healthy tissues – a better therapeutic index – makes it a promising drug candidate. The next step will be the demonstration of its systemic anticancer activity in combination with chemotherapy in major indications with unmet needs. DNA Therapeutics holds the exclusive worldwide license of a large IP portfolio of Dbait technology (composition of matter and uses in cancer) with freedom-to-operate.