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Oct 24, 2016
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

RORing against resistance

Why Oncternal’s ROR1 inhibitor could pair with BTK in chemo-resistant cancers

Oncternal Therapeutics Inc.’s ROR1 inhibitor could be combined with BTK inhibitors to increase response rates in chemotherapy-resistant or refractory hematologic cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia and mantle cell lymphoma.

The Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor Imbruvica ibrutinib from AbbVie Inc. and Johnson & Johnson is used to treat CLL and MCL after chemotherapy fails.

In clinical trials, only 17% of patients with previously treated MCL and no patients with previously treated CLL achieved a complete response to Imbruvica. “We hope that combining cirmtuzumab with ibrutinib can increase this number,” President and CEO James Breitmeyer told BioCentury.

Although Imbruvica was approved in May for first-line CLL with or without chemotherapy, Breitmeyer expects combination therapy with cirmtuzumab could be used in later lines to increase response rates and to address potential mechanisms of BTK inhibitor resistance.

Oncternal expects the combination to perform better because, while BTK inhibitors target mature B cells, cirmtuzumab targets cancer stem cells and inhibits a pathway that is still active in B cell tumors...

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