Phoenix Molecular Designs could provide triple-negative breast cancer its first molecular marker to turn the intractable indication from a group of have-nots to a group of haves. With early evidence that RSK2 is activated in 80% of TNBC tumors, Phoenix aims to develop a targeted therapeutic, and has partnered with Roche on a companion diagnostic.
Phoenix announced the deal with Roche on Jan. 16, in which the partners will develop a tissue-based assay to detect RSK2 activation in cancer patients. Terms were not disclosed, though it is the first major partnership for Phoenix. The company raised $7 million in seed funding last year and has $1.4 million in non-dilutive funding.
The marker would break open an indication that has suffered a lack of druggable targets, in large part because it is defined by the absence of the three most common receptors in breast cancer: estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER2. There have been no positive indicators in TNBC.
TNBC represents about 20% of breast cancer cases, but lacks any