Cybrexa, a spin-out company from Yale University, is developing a new class of cancer therapeutics, looking to identify combinations of chemotherapy and DNA inhibitors to increase efficacy and reduce toxicity in cancer treatment.
It’s a familiar problem within oncology: how can we develop treatments that kill cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unscathed? Many types of treatments, which would otherwise prove effective, are limited by their toxicity and side effects.
“The way cancer drugs, for the most part, are administered is systematically, so they go everywhere throughout the body,” says Per Hellsund, president and CEO of the biotech start-up Cybrexa. “While they have more of an effect on the cancer cells than they do the healthy cells, nearly all cancer drugs do have off-target toxic effects.”
While this problem is associated particularly with chemotherapy, it also applies to other types of treatment, such as PARP inhibitors. In essence, these drugs work by blocking the action of a protein (PARP1) that fixes damaged DNA. Although they are effective in treating certain cancers, they can affect normal cells too.
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