July 1, 2015. Orphagen Pharmaceuticals announced today that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded the company $224,954 under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program to identify small molecule antagonist ligands for an novel drug discovery target for cancer immunotherapy. Orphagen proposes to find drug-like molecules to a previously unexplored orphan drug target that normally suppresses the immune response.
“We believe there is an opportunity to identify small molecule ligands to this orphan drug target. The ligands will enhance T cell activation and thus stimulate anti-tumor responses by enhancing the ongoing immune surveillance that already occurs in cancer patients.” said Dr. Haiyan Tao, Scientist and Principal Investigator of the grant. The drug-like molecules identified from this project would create a powerful and potentially safer therapeutic tool to enhance clinical cancer immunotherapy and improve patient survival.
Orphagen is a first-mover in the identification of small molecule compounds to three orphan nuclear receptors. Support from the NIH is a critical part of the Company’s overall strategy to discover new classes of drugs and commercialize them through partnerships.