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Pimera Therapeutics, Researchers Receive $1M DoD Grant to Advance Prostate Cancer Therapy

NEW YORK – Pimera Therapeutics and its research collaborators have received a $1 million US Department of Defense grant to further study its lead cancer drug for prostate cancer and look for biomarkers of response, the company said on Wednesday.

The San Diego-based firm will use the DoD Prostate Cancer Research Program grant to advance efficacy studies of the RNA polymerase I inhibitor PMR-116 using patient-derived tumor models, including new combination treatment strategies, and identify response biomarkers within an ongoing Phase I study of the drug in solid tumors. The funds were awarded to the company and its collaborators, Luc Furic, head of translational prostate cancer research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center, and Ross Hannan, associate dean of biomedical and translational research at the Australian National University.

In a statement, Pimera CEO Mustapha Haddach said that PMR-116 has shown early clinical efficacy in multiple solid tumor patients and appears to have an encouraging safety profile.

"This recognition from the DoD on the potential of PMR-116 further validates our approach with PMR-116 to improve care for cancer patients, and in particular, prostate cancer, which is one of the leading causes of cancer death in men in the US," Haddach added. "We look forward to advancing PMR-116 through dose escalation, expanding into additional indications, and into Phase II to address several large cancer markets and improve patient outcomes."

In preclinical studies, PMR-116 has shown promising activity in MYC-driven tumor models, including in tumors that are resistant to standard treatments. The drug is designed to block biological processes that increase the expression of proteins cancer cells use to proliferate.

"What we've demonstrated in preclinical models of [castration-resistant prostate cancer] and [neuroendocrine prostate cancer] with PMR-116 is a powerful new way to inhibit proliferation in the most advanced stages of prostate cancer," Furic added in the statement. "The significant support from this DoD award will allow us to further characterize biomarkers of response to PMR-116 and perform the groundwork required to bring PMR-116 to the clinic for prostate cancer patients."