BOSTON, Feb. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — SHEPHERD Therapeutics, a company dedicated to catalyzing lifesaving treatments for rare cancer patients, today announced a collaboration with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research collaboration will leverage NCATS and SHEPHERD’s collective technology and scientific capabilities, including SHEPHERD’s DELVE computational platform, to identify drugs and drug combinations from NCATS’ annotated compound libraries that may have the potential to significantly improve treatment options and outcomes for patients with adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), a rare head and neck cancer.
ACC is a rare secretory gland cancer that affects approximately 1,200 Americans each year. There is an urgent need for therapies for ACC: Currently, no effective therapies currently exist, and the tumors are resistant to conventional chemotherapy. The standard of care is surgical resection and radiation therapy. While complete resection can be curative, it is difficult to achieve, and there is a high rate of recurrence with metastasis to the lungs, bone, and liver. Median survival is approximately 21 months once metastasis occurs. Discovering new uses for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs, or drug repurposing, offers a rapid path to potential therapeutic options, and NCATS is developing approaches to advance this strategy across diseases.
As part of the organizations’ three-year collaboration, NCATS will conduct high throughput screening and other laboratory and research-based activities, including but not limited to those conducted on an ACC cell line. SHEPHERD will use its AI-enabled DELVE drug positioning and development platform, laboratory resources, and other research-based assays to inform and build upon NCATS’ screening and laboratory activities.
“Many people with rare cancers are given few options, as a result of a lack of funding, research, and data,” said Katherine Arline, Chief Strategy of Officer of SHEPHERD and investigator on the project. “We are fueled at SHEPHERD by the belief that having a rare cancer diagnosis shouldn’t mean that you lack a standard of care or have fewer treatment options than patients with common cancer diagnoses.”
SHEPHERD is on a mission to change the way rare cancer is treated. Through SHEPHERD Therapeutics and the SHEPHERD Foundation, we attack rare cancer from every angle, with the goal of saving millions of lives. SHEPHERD Therapeutics pursues drug development differently than any other company: Using our precision-oncology platform, DELVE, we are moving beyond a single-target-based approach to identify complex and interconnected mechanisms responsible for drug response and resistance revealed in the human transcriptome, which inform the identification of promising potential treatments for specific cancers. The SHEPHERD Foundation is a non-profit fighting to generate industry-wide change related to rare cancer awareness and therapeutic availability. The Foundation drives transformative healthcare policy at the federal level, connects and advocates for rare cancer patients and their families, and ultimately aims to accelerate the availability of and access to rare cancer-related data, basic science, and therapies, to ensure that no patient is left to die. Visit www.SHEPHERD.bio to learn more and join the fight.
DELVE is SHEPHERD’s next-generation, precision-oncology platform that integrates bioinformatics, machine learning, and mathematics to unveil unprecedented insights into cancer. DELVE moves beyond a single-target-based approach to identify complex and interconnected mechanisms responsible for drug response and resistance revealed in the human transcriptome. Using DELVE, SHEPHERD can identify the cancers for which each therapy potentially will work best – and the therapies that will work best for each cancer. This approach enables SHEPHERD to work faster and differently across over 100 cancers, multiplying the potential patient impact for any therapy, speeding development, and improving patient outcomes by optimizing for maximum clinical trial success.
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