Startup Gets $1.5 Million to Develop New Cancer Treatment



The National Cancer Institute has awarded SuviCa Inc. approximately $1.5 million to continue work on new treatments for head and neck cancer. For example, the company is working with SVC112, a compound that enhances the anti-tumor effects of radiation in animal models.

SuviCa’s treatments involve small molecules that work together with current therapeutics to destroy tumors. The lead candidate for treatment is a “radiation enhancer” molecule that inhibits a specific process that cancer cells rely on to recover from radiation damage.

These molecules target ribosomes, which synthesize proteins inside of cells. Ribosomes are becoming increasingly recognized as a potential therapeutic agent in cancer treatment.

Tin Tin Su, company cofounder and chief scientific officer, and Bert Pronk, vice president of preclinical development, are directing the project. SuviCa also is working with clinicians and scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Colorado Cancer Center, and Colorado State University.

“We have very talented researchers at each of these institutions that together are tackling the challenges involved with successfully developing novel treatment options for head and neck cancer,” said Su, who also is a professor with the department of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

SVC112 is now in preclinical development for a variety of cancer indications, such as head and neck cancer, melanoma, colorectal cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. Another small molecule protein synthesis inhibitor, SVC201, shows potent anti-tumor activity against a panel of human colorectal cancer cell lines. It is in lead optimization.

The Technology Transfer Office at the University of Colorado exclusively licensed SVC112 and related technology to SuviCa in 2011 and 2012. Su founded SuviCa based on a novel drug screening technology she developed at the university in 2010.

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