Oncoprex Immunogene Therapy

Scientific Rationale

The active ingredient in our lead product candidate, Oncoprex, is the TUSC2 gene, a tumor suppressor gene.

Our lead product candidate, Oncoprex, consists of a TUSC2 gene encapsulated in a positively charged nanovesicle made from lipid molecules with a positive electrical charge. Oncoprex is injected intravenously and can specifically target cancer cells, which generally have a negative electrical charge. Once Oncoprex is taken up into a cancer cell, the TUSC2 gene is expressed into a protein that is capable of restoring certain defective functions arising in the cancer cell. Oncoprex has a multimodal mechanism of action whereby it interrupts cell signaling pathways that cause replication and proliferation of cancer cells, re-establishes pathways for programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in cancer cells, and modulates the immune response against cancer cells. Oncoprex has also been shown to block mechanisms that create drug resistance.

Target Activity

Our cancer gene therapy platform and its innovative delivery system are highly targeted. While the TUSC2 gene induces apoptosis in cancer cells which have low or absent TUSC2 expression, TUSC2 delivered by nanovesicles to normal cells is well tolerated relative to other lung cancer drugs. Moreover, the nanovesicles are taken up by tumor cells after Oncoprex treatment at 10 to 25 times the rate at which they are taken up by normal cells, due to selective endocytosis of the nanovesicle lipid formulation and the enhanced permeability and retention, or EPR, characteristics of tumor vasculature, without the need for external ligands, or binding molecules.