12:00 AM
May 07, 2012
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Essa: A baby Cougar

Essa's EPI-0011 kills prostate tumors other androgen-targeting agents don't

Essa Pharma Inc. is developing a next-generation hormone antagonist that blocks a previously intractable androgen receptor domain, a strategy the company expects to work in advanced castration-resistant prostate cancer even after other androgen receptor blockers have failed.

Prostate cancer cells depend on androgen to replicate and grow. Androgen deprivation therapy is therefore used to treat the roughly 30% of men whose prostate cancer recurs following surgery and/or radiation.

"This will often be effective for anywhere from two to 10 years, but unfortunately everybody will ultimately progress," said CEO Bob Rieder.

Patients then cycle through other drugs, many of which also disrupt androgen signaling.

The androgen receptor is a free-floating, intracellular protein with distinct functional domains that include the C-terminal ligand-binding domain (LBD), where androgen binding occurs, and the N-terminal domain (NTD), which regulates transcription in prostate cells.

Rieder said all marketed and clinical-stage compounds targeting androgen either block the receptor's LBD or the hormone itself. Therefore, none are...

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