SkunkWorx Bio was just announced as a winner of the Genewiz Week Grant Contest 

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Genewiz stated, in the notification of the award, that “your abstract ‘Generation of a Companion Diagnostic For a Peptide Drug Conjugate’ has been selected as a winner of our GENEWIZ Week Grant Contest! Your application stood out among a competitive pool of abstracts due to its innovative approach, scientific merit, and exciting potential to impact the field. Our review committee was impressed by the clarity of your objectives and the significance of your research in advancing knowledge in Oncology”.

Abstract:  Generation of a Companion Diagnostic For a Peptide Drug Conjugate

Cancer is a diverse and complex disorder with multiple causes and variable outcomes. Current treatment paradigms, which depend on the type and location of the cancer, often consist of a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and forms of biological intervention targeting specific molecules including monoclonal antibodies, antisense and gene therapy.  However, newer therapeutic approaches take advantage of either the patient’s immune system (e.g., checkpoint inhibitors) or therapeutics which can target tumor specific antigens.

SkunkWorx Bio has developed a powerful system for the generation of cancer-specific drugs. This has involved the generation of highly diverse peptide and single domain antibody libraries which  define the essential pharmacological domain of any protein interaction called the “hotspot”. SkunkWorx has found that these peptides and antibodies can act as either highly specific  antagonists which can be linked to a drug such as MMAE.  The resulting conjugate can be tested in vitro and in vivo to determine its potential as a lead drug candidate.

SkunkWorx has generated a peptide-drug conjugate, 429-MMAE, which binds to a specific epitope on the insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R).  The GF-1R signaling pathway has been shown to be involved in the pathogenesis of many types of cancer. 429-MMAE has excellent drug-like characteristics in cellular assays and has been shown to inhibit several types of human tumor xenografts in nude mice.

The goal of this grant would be to develop a “companion diagnostic” for 429-MMAE.  The final product would consist of the 429 peptide inserted into the CDR3 of a human antibody framework lined to a mouse Fc. This reagent would allow SkunkWorx to determine if a patient’s cancer expresses the appropriate epitope and be a candidate for treatment with 429-MMAE.

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