Verastem, Inc., (NASDAQ: VSTM) a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing drugs to treat breast and other cancers by targeting cancer stem cells, hosted its annual Research and Development Day where Robert Weinberg, Ph.D., Verastem co-founder and chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, gave a seminar on cancer stem cells. Members of the Company’s management team provided updates to the product portfolio and advancements in the research and development pipeline.
“In order to generate a durable, clinical response in cancer we must design a treatment strategy that attacks the cancer stem cells, in addition to the other cancer cells, that comprise a tumor,” said Dr. Weinberg. “We founded Verastem in order to create therapies designed to specifically target cancer stem cells as these cells are resistant to standard cancer treatments. Verastem has made significant strides in the identification and development of small molecules that target this cancer stem cell population.”
Yesterday, Verastem announced the acquisition of an exclusive license to VS-6063 (formerly PF-04554878) from Pfizer. VS-6063 is a focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor that has completed a Phase 1 clinical study in advanced solid tumors. VS-6063 was well tolerated and showed signs of clinical activity in the study.
“A key component of Verastem’s IPO was to raise sufficient capital to rapidly progress the development of novel compounds targeting cancer stem cells,” said Christoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D., Verastem Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “With the in-license of VS-6063 from Pfizer, we have accelerated our clinical development plans for the FAK program by 12-18 months.”
“Our research has identified and prioritized key pathways necessary for the survival of cancer stem cells and yielded specific inhibitors to block these critical targets,” said Jonathan Pachter, Ph.D., Verastem Vice President and Head of Research. “We are now poised to translate that research into multiple clinical trials over the next year with our cancer stem cell-targeted agents.”