According to a recent press release, Texas-based biotechnology company Emtora Biosciences was chosen earlier this month to receive a $3 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
The grant money will go towards funding Emtora’s phase 2a clinical trial of eRapa, an investigational treatment for familial adenomatous polyposis. eRapa is Emtora’s lead drug candidate.
About Familial Adenomatous Polyposis
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a rare, genetically inherited condition characterized by the development of colorectal cancer. Individuals with classic FAP may develop benign tumors in their colons as early as adolescence. If the colon isn’t surgically removed, these benign growths can become malignant – often around 40 or so years of age.
FAP is caused by mutations to a gene called APC. In otherwise healthy individuals, APC is responsible for coding the production of a protein with the same designation. APC normally acts as a tumor suppressor, limiting the rates of growth and division of new cells. It does this by helping to control various aspects of cell behavior, such as how often the cell divides, how the cell interacts with the cells surrounding it, and where the cell moves in a given tissue.
In individuals with mutations to APC, the locations and progression of colon polyps (pre-cancerous growths) are determined by where on the gene the mutation occurs.
About eRapa and the CPRIT Grant
Currently, no treatment exists for FAP other than prophylactic bowel resection that often occurs during adolescence.
Studies in mice have suggested that eRapa can reduce intestinal polyp counts. By reducing the number of these physical precursors to malignant tumors, researchers hope to reduce the number of colorectal cancers developed by individuals with FAP.
Thanks to the $3 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, Emtora now plans on moving ahead with a phase 2a study of an orally-available formulation of eRapa in up to 30 FAP patients. The study will attempt to assess the efficacy of the drug in reducing polyp size and count in FAP patients over the course of a full year.
Researchers believe that eRapa’s unique formulation and delivery mechanism could also reduce the potential toxicity of rapamycin, the original drug on which the design of eRapa is based.
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