HOUSTON, April 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Esperance Pharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical stage company developing novel targeted membrane-disrupting peptides to treat cancer, today announced the appointment of Dr. Mark Pegram, MD, as a Scientific Advisor. Dr. Pegram is a renowned breast cancer clinician and scholar who is an expert in translational medicine. He is currently the Susy Yuan-Huey Hung Professor, Medicine–Oncology at Stanford Medical, Director of the Stanford Cancer Institute's Stanford Breast Oncology Program, and Co-Director of the Translational Oncology Research Program at Stanford. Dr. Pegram will provide guidance on the clinical development of Esperance's anticancer product candidates including the company's lead product EP-100.
EP-100 is the first in a novel class of targeted anticancer therapeutics. It is a membrane-disrupting peptide designed to seek and destroy cancer cells that overexpress luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) receptors on their surfaces. LHRH receptors are overexpressed in a wide range of cancers including ovarian, breast, prostate, pancreatic and endometrial cancer. In a Phase II clinical trial in ovarian cancer patients who had developed resistance to paclitaxel (Taxol®). EP-100 re-sensitized the cancer to the anti-tumor effects of paclitaxel, which is a front-line agent for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Based on these promising results, Esperance entered into a strategic alliance with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, to accelerate clinical development of EP-100 in ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
"Dr. Pegram is a world-renowned leader in breast cancer research and development, and we are honored that he will serve as a Scientific Advisor to Esperance," noted Hector Alila, PhD, CEO of Esperance Pharmaceuticals. "Our strategic alliance with MD Anderson Cancer Center has enabled us to make substantial progress in the development of EP-100, and we expect that Dr. Pegram's involvement will help us further strengthen and accelerate the clinical program."
"An important focus of my research is translational medicine—ensuring that scientific advances in the laboratory reach patients in an expeditious and efficient way," noted Dr. Pegram. "I therefore welcome the opportunity to work with Esperance on the development of EP-100 for breast and ovarian cancer. The company's targeted membrane disrupting platform technology has demonstrated potential as a promising new approach to treating a number of the many cancers that overexpress LHRH receptors."
Dr. Alila added, "We recently launched a Series C financing to help fund clinical development of EP-100, and we view the active support of leading cancer researchers and institutions such as Dr. Pegram and MD Anderson as a valuable confirmation of the anticancer potential of EP-100."
Dr. Pegram's commitment to translational science includes having played a major role in developing the breast cancer drug Herceptin®. His laboratory experiments demonstrated that combining Herceptin with chemotherapy killed cancer cells that overproduced the growth factor HER2. Dr. Pegram and others then conducted clinical trials showing that Herceptin improved survival rates in, and even cured, some breast cancer patients--one of the premier examples of bench-to-bedside translational research. Dr. Pegram's current research includes a continued focus on the HER2 gene and he also is pursuing strategies to target the hormone receptors implicated in the majority of breast cancers.
Prior to joining Stanford University, Dr. Pegram spent five years at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where he was a Sylvester Chair Professor of Medicine in the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute and Associate Director for Clinical Research at the University's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Earlier in his career, Dr. Pegram served on the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Pegram earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of North Carolina. He has authored and co-authored numerous scientific publications.
EP-100, the lead candidate from Esperance's Cationic Lytic Peptide (CLYP™) platform technology, is a precision targeted membrane‐disrupting peptide designed to seek and destroy cancer cells that overexpress luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) receptors on their surfaces. LHRH receptors are overexpressed in a wide range of cancers including breast, prostate, endometrial, pancreatic, ovarian, blood, skin and testicular cancers. In a Phase II clinical trial, EP-100 demonstrated positive results in ovarian cancer patients resistant to paclitaxel, and it has shown promising activity in preclinical studies in breast and pancreatic cancer. Esperance is developing EP-100 for ovarian and breast cancer as part of a strategic alliance with the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The company's patented technology was discovered by scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, EP-100 was developed at PBRC as part of a sponsored research agreement funded by Esperance under the leadership of Dr. Hector Alila and Pennington's Dr. Carola Leuschner, who is now Vice President of Research and Development at Esperance.
About Esperance Pharmaceuticals
Esperance Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a clinical stage company developing a new class of targeted anticancer drugs using its Cationic Lytic Peptide (CLYP™) platform technology. These drug candidates include targeted membrane-disrupting peptides and antibody drug conjugates that selectively seek and destroy cancer cells, including cells known to be resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs, without harming normal cells. Lead candidate EP-100 has successfully completed a Phase II trial in ovarian cancer patients resistant to paclitaxel and is in late preclinical development for breast cancer. Esperance has relocated to Houston, Texas and is conducting these programs as part of a strategic alliance with the MD Anderson Cancer Center. For more information, visit esperancepharma.com.
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SOURCE Esperance Pharmaceuticals, Inc.