PolyU Strikes a Deal with Kinex Pharmaceuticals

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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) entered into a license agreement on 13 February 2015 with a global oncology specialist company, Kinex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Kinex) to adopt Apigenin Flavonoid Dimer to inhibit multidrug resistance in cancer cells.

Prof. Larry Chow is one of the Prinicipal Investigators of the research

Under the agreement, Kinex will also develop oral versions of cancer drugs currently administered through intravenous injection. Kinex will also support PolyU's future research to bring about new technologies with an aim to improve cancer treatments and patients' quality of life.

Jointly undertaken by PolyU's Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, McGill University, as well as the Partner State Key Laboratory of Chirosciences and Shenzhen-based State Key Laboratory for Chinese Medicine and Molecular Pharmacology of PolyU, the research is led by Professor Larry Chow and Professor Bill Chan, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, PolyU.

As a critical reason for cancer treatment failure, drug resistance remains one of the biggest challenges in the industry. Researchers at PolyU have thoroughly studied the mechanism of drug resistance and developed a new inhibitor to prevent drug efflux from Apigenin, a natural nutrient found in many fruits and vegetables. Acting as a fit "lock", the inhibitor Apigenin Flavonoid Dimer can prevent cancer cells from pumping out cancer drugs, developing MDR and lowering the efficacy of chemotherapy.

Professor Chow explained, "The Apigenin Flavonoid Dimer aims at common drug-resistance proteins. Thanks to the unique design of dimeric in structure, the inhibitor can specifically bind to the cancer cell's drug pump and reverse cancer drug resistance. More importantly, it is 10 times more potent and 3 times safer than the best inhibitor available in the market. The inhibitor only targets the tumor and causes no damage to normal tissues. Just a tiny dose can produce remarkable healing effects."

"We have also developed a new strategy to increase dimer structural diversity, so that a large pool of flavonoid dimers can be easily produced to match different cancer drugs. It is a breakthrough in tackling MDR," he added.

Another breakthrough achieved by this Apigenin Flavonoid Dimer is that it can change the way of chemotherapy treatment. Some anticancer drugs cannot be absorbed in the digestion system of human body and have to be administered intravenously. The Apigenin Flavonoid Dimer can act as an absorption enhancer and enable the drugs to be taken orally, reducing the risks associated with intravenous injection, and making the treatment less time-consuming, more convenient and comfortable. Paclitaxel, a drug commonly used in treating breast cancer, is expected to be the first modified oral drug because of the Apigenin Flavonoid Dimer.

Dr Johnson YN Lau, MD, Chairman and CEO of Kinex, stated "Kinex contemplates to actively collaborate with PolyU to further develop this drug delivery platform and to convert more current intravenous drugs into oral form. Such an effort, if successful, will have the potential to impact healthcare delivery globally and substantially."

The commercialization of the Apigenin Flavonoid Dimer has led to a closer tide between PolyU and the industry. Mr Nicholas Yang, Executive Vice President of PolyU, remarked, "We are confident that the collaboration between PolyU and Kinex will open a new chapter for cancer drug development, bringing new hope to cancer patients globally and taking us one step closer to a revolution in cancer treatments."

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