Brad McCarty • April 18, 2018

Cancer, as you are likely aware, is one of healthcare’s largest areas of spending. 14 percent of all seed funding in 2017 went to oncology, with a total of $7.2 billion raised. One big reason for this much attention being paid to a single specialty is that cancer is uniquely difficult to treat and cure. Hijacked epigenetic proteins lie at the source of the problem, and Salarius Pharmaceuticals has developed the first inhibitor with reversible effects.

The Cancer Problem

The specific problem that Salarius is solving is one that has baffled physicians and researchers for decades. The LSD1 protein, which has a critical role in the growth of new tissue, is cancer’s target. By “hijacking” this protein, it allows for tumors to grow instead eventually dying off as happens elsewhere in the body.

We’ve known for some time that blocking the LSD1 protein allows us to inhibit tumor growth, but the problem is that the body needs this protein to survive normally. Unless the protein can begin acting at an effective rate again, the inhibition can have severe, negative effects on the body’s ability to regenerate healthy cells.

The Salarius Solution

Seclidemstat is an oral tablet that inhibits the LSD1 protein. But unlike most other solutions, it is a reversible inhibitor, meaning that it does not shut down the protein. So far, Seclidemstat has shown to completely cure Ewing sarcoma and related cancers in animal models.

Ewing sarcoma is an area of particular interest to Salarius, given that it is normally diagnosed at around age 14, with 500 new patients being diagnosed in the US each year. Less than half of these patients respond to chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Those who don’t respond have a five-year mortality rate above 90 percent.

The company also holds a special interest in other late-stage cancers. Prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer patients “desperately need new therapies”, and Salarius believes that Seclidemstat could be the answer.

Company Overview

Salarius is a Houston-based company, operating out of the JLABS at TMC incubator program. The company has recieved an $18.69 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, and is presently working its way through phase 1 of clinical trials. Salarius has a patent issued through 2032, with extensions available. They are presently seeking a $7 million Series A funding round, the money from which will be used to continue the clinical trial process.

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