According to a story from marketscreener.com, the drug development startup Endocyte has recently reached $1.5 billion in total value. This biopharmaceutical company has been focused on developing therapies for two different types of cancer: advanced prostate cancer and osteosarcoma, a type of rare bone cancer that is more common in children and teens than adults.
Osteosarcoma is generally considered rare, but it is still the most common type of cancer to originate in bone in humans. The exact cause of osteosarcoma isn’t exactly understood, but there are a number of risk factors, such as strontium-90 emissions (from nuclear reactors), certain genetic disorders, mutations, and syndromes, and bone diseases such as fibrous dysplasia. Osteosarcoma tends to appear at areas where bone grows, most commonly near the knees. Symptoms may include swelling, pain below the knee that may be intermittent and tends to worsen at night, or a sudden fracture. Cancerous bone is not as strong as healthy bone, so it can break under even minor pressure. Generally, treatment for osteosarcoma involves surgery followed up by chemotherapy. Outcomes vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of the case, but the overall five year survival rate is around 65 to 70 percent. To learn more about osteosarcoma, click here.
The goal of Endocyte’s research is to develop personalized cancer therapies that avoid some of the worst side effects of treatments like chemotherapy by targeting cancer cells specifically. Their prostate cancer treatment work has been going well so far, but a therapy for osteosarcoma is also in the developmental stages.
CAR-T Cell Therapy
The approach that Endocyte is using for pediatric osteosarcoma is a type of CAR-T cell therapy. This is a type of immunotherapy in which a patient’s T-cells are extracted from the body, modified to target a protein that is found on the cancer cells, artifically propagated, and then introduced back into the patient’s body. This type of immunotherapy can also mediate the activity of the immune system by keeping it from over or under-reacting.
Endocyte anticipates that their CAR-T cell therapy will also be of utility for other types of cancer as well. There is hope that this therapy could also be a viable option for metastatic osteosarcoma, or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.