Aileron’s New Class of Drugs Shown to Get Inside Cells to Block Prime Cancer Target

11/11/09Follow @xconomy

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and microRNA technology—which are much better known in the scientific community than stapled peptides.

Yanchik welcomes the comparison.

“One of the big differences is that we can modulate things up or down, on or off,” Yanchik says. “Most drugs are good at stomping on things you want to stop. We can do that, or we can also stimulate an activity that you want.”

Aileron still has a very long road ahead to prove this concept will actually work for new FDA-approved drugs. The company hasn’t yet entered its first clinical trial, and it could take another year to file its first application with the FDA to start a human trial, Yanchik says.

The company currently has 26 employees and is looking to grow by hiring biologists, chemists, and people with drug development experience, Yanchik says. One important recent hire was Diane Jorkasky as chief medical officer: she was previously the worldwide head of clinical research operations for Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), the world’s largest drug company.

Part of Jorkasky’s job will be to evaluate the prospects of Aileron’s drug candidates for clinical trials. But Yanchik wanted to emphasize that Aileron isn’t going to get pigeonholed into becoming a one-product company, as is often the case in biotech companies. Developing a drug does take a lot of focus on a product, and all companies have to set their priorities, but for now he’s still emphasizing the vast potential of stapled peptides as a “platform” technology that can give rise to a whole new class of therapies.

“This paper isn’t just about Notch, it will cause people to think more about the breadth of opportunities,” Yanchik says. “This isn’t about one single drug.”

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