MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tosk, Inc. announced today that it has received a two-year, $2 million Phase II SIBR grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to support its kRAS oncogene drug research and development program, a high priority for the NCI.
Some 40 percent of all cancer patients carry an oncogenic kRAS gene that renders EGFR-inhibitor cancer therapies, such as Erbitux®, ineffective. Tosk is working on drugs to address this problem and make this important class of cancer therapies effective in patients who do not currently benefit. Such a drug could also be effective in treating kRAS positive cancers, such as many pancreatic, colon, lung, and other cancers.
“The objective of our kRAS program,” according to Tosk’s CEO, drug industry veteran Brian Frenzel, “is to develop drugs to selectively block the activity of oncogenic kRAS. Tosk has improvised a proprietary drug screening technology using genetically modified fruit flies to identify drugs with this capability.”
A portion of Tosk’s kRAS program was financed by a Phase I SBIR research grant from NCI. The Company is collaborating with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on this program through Tosk’s Scientific Advisory Board member, Professor Jeff Thomas.
Tosk’s scientists have worked for a decade to develop innovative technologies that use the fruit fly as a model for human diseases. The effort to develop a kRAS drug is one of four important research programs underway at Tosk. The other programs are focused on developing cost effective, small molecule drugs that reduce or eliminate the adverse side effects of existing, front-line cancer therapies. Tosk believes that its drug candidates will not only improve outcomes for cancer patients, but reduce the overall cost of care. The first of these drugs began human trials in cancer patients in 2017.