According to a press release from BeiGene, the Company and SpringWorks Therapeutics have launched MapKure, LLC — a new, jointly-operated venture owned by both partners. MapKure was founded to develop BGB-3245, an experimental small molecule inhibitor designed to slow the progression of certain cancers including non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, thyroid cancer, and certain brain cancers.
About Small Molecule Drugs
Cancer is, like many other diseases, much more diverse than is frequently assumed. No two cancer cases are exactly alike, even when diagnoses match. Cancers are so unique, and present themselves so differently between patients, that it can be difficult to decide how we should go about trying to treat them.
One type of treatment is growing increasingly popular, and fast — small molecule drugs. These are drugs formulated around impossibly tiny molecules that are fantastically well suited for squeezing into tight places. In a way, these drugs take their inspiration from biological viruses, which are so small they can easily penetrate the incredibly selective blood-brain barrier.
Lung, colorectal, thyroid, and brain cancers are often aggressive and highly invasive. It can be difficult if not impossible to remove tumors of these cancers because they grow around — and sometimes physically into — vital and delicate tissues. Small molecule drugs are one way researchers are hoping to target cancers in these difficult-to-treat regions.
The drug should work by inhibiting the expression of certain mutations that stimulate the activation of BRAF, a protein kinase. When BRAF is activated, it triggers the MAP kinase/ERK-signaling pathway — a chemical pathway that helps regulate gene expression, cell growth, and cell survival. Researchers believe this potentially unchecked stimulation of the MAP kinase/ERK-signaling pathway could contribute to the development of some cancers.
By inhibiting the activation of BRAF, small molecule drugs like BGB-3245 might be able to “shut off” overstimulated the MAP kinase/ERK-signaling pathway, thereby reducing the risk of developing a serious cancer. However, whether MapKure, BeiGene, and SpringWorks can actually create a working version of the drug remains to be seen.
Small molecule drugs like BGB-3245 might one day be at the forefront of chemotherapy drugs — many existing treatments focus on damaging cancers and the tissue around it. Why is it important we develop new treatments that are more pointed in their effects? Share your thoughts with Patient Worthy!