Extremely fast pathway of the anticancer agent from the laboratory to clinical trials!

Every year, tens of thousands of patients with cancer are diagnosed in the Czech Republic. The Institute of Biotechnology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (IBT), where the new anti-cancer drug – MitoTam – was discovered, could help fight this insidious disease with an unconventional mechanism of action. Mitochondrially targeted MitoTam significantly suppresses breast cancer and works against other cancers, as well. The uniqueness of the discovery attracted the Czech investor Smart Brain s.r.o., which accelerated the course of laboratory and preclinical tests leading to the Phase 1 clinical trial. The clinical trial approval was obtained from SÚKL (State Institute for Drug Control) and clinical trials are carried out at the VFN Prague under the guidance of the oncologist prof. L. Petruželka.

Essential for the development of the new anticancer agent was the research of prof. Jiří Neužil and his team from the IBT, which brought new biological knowledge important to understanding the function of mitochondria as “power stations” necessary for the activity and life of both healthy and tumor cells. Comprehensive research has led to the detection of a sensitive tumor cell site and the suggestion of how to attack this site. This was followed by the demanding chemical work of Dr. Jana Štursa a Dr. Lukáš Werner, who designed and synthesized all tested substances. One of the selected structures – MitoTam – has proven to be a promising drug that is capable of disabling the function of mitochondria and thus inducing programmed death of tumor cells (Apoptosis).

The IBT Service Technological Laboratory (STL-BTÚ), which is one of the key elements of the Center of Preclinical Testing (CPT) and it is involved in the AV21 strategy program of Czech Academy of Sciences: Preclinical Testing of Potential Medicines. STL-BTU has also been involved in the synthesis of MitoTam in medicinal quality and preparation of documentation for a clinical trial.

The key impulse for MitoTam’s shift towards practical application was the involvement of  Karel Komárek, the founder of company Smart Brain, which has been supporting interesting research projects throughout the Czech Republic for 8 years. Without his financial support and enormous energy and persistence in project coordination, such an efficient path from the laboratory research through patent management up to the clinical trials would not be possible. During the project, another key factor was the involvement of KKCG a.s., a strong financial partner, which gave MitoTam a promising future.