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Lantern Pharma, Fox Chase Partner on Pancreatic Cancer Drug, Search for Predictive Gene Signature

NEW YORK – Dallas-based Lantern Pharma on Tuesday announced it had entered into a collaboration with the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia to further advance the development of the company's investigational small-molecule, LP-184, for the treatment of a molecularly defined subset of patients with pancreatic cancer.

Through the partnership, Lantern and Fox Chase aim to home in on a gene signature to identify patients most likely to respond to LP-184 in preparation for future clinical trials. LP-184 is currently in preclinical development for pancreatic cancer as well as glioblastoma and multiple genomically defined solid tumors.

By incorporating new data points and insights gleaned from the Fox Chase partnership into its RADR artificial intelligence platform, Lantern hopes to advance the platform's ability to identify gene signatures predictive of patient responses to LP-184 specifically in pancreatic cancer — a cancer for which the NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center Fox Chase is considered a leading research center. The research element of the partnership will be led by Igor Astsaturov, who specializes in investigating signaling pathways to identify biomarker targets and treatment combinations to evaluate in clinical trials.

In addition to the pancreatic cancer gene signature, Lantern is also using its RADR platform, which includes over 500 million data points, to revive targeted cancer agents that were originally developed by other drugmakers, but which were shelved when they could not demonstrate benefit in their intended patient populations. Lantern is now working on narrowing the population of patients who are candidates for these agents, including LP-100 for prostate cancer and LP-300 for lung cancer, based on patients' biomarkers.

Unlike LP-100 and LP-300, which Lantern acquired from drugmakers MGI Pharma and BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals, respectively, LP-184 is Lantern's own creation. The agent is designed to preferentially damage DNA in cancer cells that overexpress certain biomarkers, and Lantern's preclinical efforts have suggested that one of these biomarkers may be the overexpression of the gene PTGR1. Now, the company aims to validate PTGR1 expression as a predictive biomarker through its research efforts with Fox Chase.

"The unique insights we gain [through the partnership] will equip Lantern with critical advantages in our aim of accelerating LP-184's path to clinical trials, and ultimately commercialization, while saving millions of dollars in development costs," Lantern CEO Panna Sharma in a statement. "This data-enabled and biomarker-based approach has the potential to meaningfully bend the cost curve of cancer drug development and help bring personalized cancer therapies to patients with reduced economic burden and greater efficacy."