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Sep 30, 2013
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

FAKs of life

Verastem targeting 2017 approval of lead FAK inhibitor for mesothelioma

Verastem Inc. believes it is on track to reach the market in 2017 after starting a pivotal study of its lead FAK inhibitor to treat mesothelioma. If the plan succeeds, that will be three years sooner than if the biotech had stuck with its pre-IPO stable of preclinical compounds.

Verastem was founded in 2010 to use its high throughput screening technology to discover small molecules with epithelial cancer stem cell-specific toxicity.

At the time of its January 2012 IPO, the company's lead compound was a proprietary formulation of the generic veterinary antibiotic salinomycin, which is an inhibitor of the wingless-type MMTV integration site (Wnt) pathway. The compound, VS-507, had been slated to begin Phase I testing by early 2013.

The biotech also had VS-4718, a preclinical focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor licensed from Poniard Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2011, and a discovery program to find dual inhibitors of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR; FRAP; RAFT1).

Within months of the IPO, however, the company postponed development of VS-507; in-licensed the FAK...

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