To readers of this blog, whoever you are, and however few or many you may be, Happy January 2023. January is named after Janus, the Roman God of beginnings and endings, usually depicted with two faces: one looking forward into the future and one looking backward at the past. Fittingly, with an eye to the future, we cast a glance back to the accomplishments of 2022.
Tripledemic aside, 2022 was a very good and positive, momentum-building year for EpicentRx. It saw us receive two major grants from Michael J. Fox Foundation with ShakeItUp Australia for Parkinson’s Disease and from FightMND for ALS/motor neuron disease. 2022 also marked the start of a beautiful friendship – to borrow a line from the classic movie Casablanca – between Dr. Richard Gordon at the University of Queensland and EpicentRx. In the past year, Dr. Gordon’s lab has come out with rock-solid data demonstrating the activity of RRx-001, an NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor, in Parkinson’s, ALS/MND, and Alzheimer’s. This data wowed the crowd at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in San Diego and the Inflammasome Summit in Boston. Dr. Gordon’s work will continue in 2023 and beyond as his lab explores the activity of RRx-001 in other neurological diseases. Look out for a podium presentation from Dr. Gordon and EpicentRx at the prestigious AD/PD Conference for Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease in Gothenburg, Sweden from March 28-April 1, 2023.
A huge milestone in 2022 was the initiation of the Phase 3 trial called REPLATINUM in China with our partner, SciClone Pharmaceuticals, for the treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC); we expect this trial to continue at least through 2024, especially with the outbreak of COVID in China, which may impact enrollment, but, with luck, hopefully it won’t.
Our lead oncolytic virus, AdAPT-001, which carries a TGF-beta trap that binds to and neutralizes the immunosuppressive cytokine, TGF beta, also debuted in 2022. The Phase 1/2 trial called BETA PRIME, which opened in centers across the United States, from MD Anderson to Cleveland Clinic and City of Hope, has demonstrated evidence of activity in several tumor types both alone and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors. A late-stage trial with AdAPT-001 is planned for 2023, so stay tuned.
In 2022, EpicentRx also began a collaboration with Dr. Tom Macvittie – who has assembled a stellar, brilliant, crackerjack team with whom we are really and truly excited to work (more about them in an upcoming blog) – that has begun the evaluation of RRx-001 as a medical countermeasure in case of a nuclear or radiological emergency.
We are also over the moon, quite literally as it turns out, to collaborate with spaceflight health scientists-cum-racecar drivers Drs. Cheryl Nickerson and Jenn Barilla from Arizona State University (ASU) (see blog). These speed demons plan to test out the antibacterial and radioprotective activity of RRx-001 in space, believe it or not, on the International Space Station and quite possibly, in the future, on a trip to the Moon. In NASA-speak, all systems are go.
Finally, we want to mention the late-stage trial in head and neck cancer called KEVLAR, which is planned for 2023, to confirm the excellent activity of RRx-001 as an anti-mucositis agent in a randomized trial called PREVLAR.
So, even as we celebrate the accomplishments of 2022, we want to look forward, not back. Given all that is left to do, now is not the time to take our eyes off the ball, as the welfare of patients is at stake.
In that spirit, we quote the Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, Satchel Paige, (1906-1982) who said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” We couldn’t agree more. It’s on to 2023. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful New Year.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janus