Cancer immunotherapy is now recognized as an important new pillar of cancer treatment, as immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated significant efficacy with many types of cancer. However, data accumulated to date show the treatment efficacy rate remains only about 10-20% and can widely vary based on the cancer type. Analysis of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy reveals it has, in fact, not led to a cure for many patients. Differences in the immunological environment of each cancer tissue are now known to be an important factor separating the success and failure of treatment. AskAt’s EP4 antagonist clinical trials are based on our belief that it is possible to increase the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment by controlling the immune environment of cancerous tissues.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and calcium channel inhibitors are generally used in the initial treatment of chronic pain, such as cancer-related pain and neuropathic pain, while narcotic analgesics (opioids) are used in severe cases. It is common for opioids to increase in dose alongside prolonged treatment. This in turn has led to a dramatic rise in drug dependency and significant social cost in the United States and many other nations. AskAt believes next generation, safe COX-2 inhibitors have the powerful analgesic effects needed to replace opioids.
The current lack of an effective alternative to opioids in neuropathic pain treatment is a major unmet need. Calcium channel inhibitors have serious side effects and low efficacy rate (roughly 30%). AskAt’s development strategy for COX-2 inhibitors, which orally and effectively transfer to the brain, is centered on our belief that they can be a major new treatment in this area.
Alzheimer’s disease will continue to increase at a rapid pace as the number of elderly people grows, placing an even heavier burden on patients, caregivers, and society. Clinical development of therapeutics that can change the course of this disease progression has largely proven unsuccessful to this point. Once dementia has progressed beyond a certain point, clinical interventions have not been able to arrest the disease. We now know that changes in the brain begin approximately 20 years in advance of the onset of dementia. Treating these earlier stages, before the disease takes hold, may prove to be more beneficial. AskAt’s approach is focused on intervention prior to the onset of dementia, taking into account neurological disorders that cause cognitive impairment other than Alzheimer’s disease.
Autoimmune Disease Therapy
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ulcerative colitis, and psoriasis have proven difficult to effectively treat. Current therapies for these autoimmune diseases, while showing a degree of efficacy, carry the risk of serious side effects, including liver damage and infection. Anti-IL-23 antibodies targeting several autoimmune diseases have been shown to be effective. However, antibody-specific side effects, increased resistance, and significant cost all represent impediments. AskAt believes EP4 antagonists are a small molecule that effectively target IL-23 in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.