Verastem, Inc., (NASDAQ: VSTM) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing drugs to treat cancer by the targeted killing of cancer stem cells, announced that researchers at the Broad Institute have published a study utilizing the cancer stem cell screening assay exclusively licensed to Verastem to identify novel chemicals that preferentially kill cancer stem cells.
Published in the Journal of Biomolecular Screening, researchers at the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology utilized the screen originally developed in the laboratories of Verastem scientific cofounders Robert Weinberg, Ph.D. and Eric Lander, Ph.D. Due to the difficulty in propagating cancer stem cells outside of the tumor environment, the researchers created unique cancer stem cell-like cells and used phenotypic high-throughput screening to evaluate 300,718 compounds for their ability to preferentially kill cancer stem cells. The screen identified 2,244 hits and further characterized selective compounds.
“This study demonstrates the power of the cancer stem cell screening technology that was developed by our founders and underpins our research at Verastem,” said Jonathan Pachter, Ph.D., Verastem Vice President and Head of Research. “To date, innovation in cancer therapy has been limited by a myopic focus only on targeting bulk tumor cells with little regard for resistant cancer stem cell populations. Verastem is harnessing the power of cancer stem cell-directed screens to identify novel drugs that have the ability to kill the cellular components of the tumor that resist current therapies and drive tumor recurrence.”
The top three chemical series described in the current study are exclusively licensed to Verastem and are part of a portfolio of drugs being advanced for the treatment of a broad range of cancer indications.Verastem has built a pipeline of novel chemical series that have demonstrated the unique ability to kill cancer stem cells and plans to enter into multiple clinical studies, including a potential registration study in mesothelioma, over the next 12 months.