The Powerful Possibilities Behind the Senesco/Fabrus Combination

Today I’d like to talk a little bit about Senesco’s acquiring and combining with Fabrus Inc. within the context of Senesco’s overall approach. Senesco’s strategy, of course, is to influence the genetics of disease causing cells by inducing apoptosis by essentially reprogramming their response to surveillance by the immune system. In the case of our lead oncological candidate SNS01-T, the target is the eIF5a gene in cancer cells which controls apoptosis, or cell death. We believe and our preclinical studies have shown that we do have sufficient means to modulate that gene and reactivate it, triggering cell death.

Nevertheless, the journey through the clinic is long, and when an opportunity comes along to increase your chances of success early on in the journey, you take it. That opportunity has presented itself in more ways than one with Fabrus, Inc.

First, a brief history of Fabrus.  The Company was founded in the Pfizer biotech incubator in San Diego in 2007. It was started in order to find new and more efficient ways of screening and categorizing antibodies for therapeutic purposes. In 2010 its founder, Dr. Vaughn Smider a faculty member at the Scripps Research Institute since 2005 was introduced to Opko Health and Teva Pharmaceuticals Chairman Dr. Phillip Frost, who took a large stake in the company and became a Fabrus board member. Now, with Senesco’s combining with Fabrus, Frost’s team becomes integrated with our own.

So why did we choose Fabrus, or better yet, why did Fabrus choose Senesco? To use an appropriate analogy from the relevant subject matter here, just like an antibody and target cell fit perfectly together, so do the two companies’ technologies.

For one, we were very impressed with Fabrus’s multivalent nanocage technology. As you know, SNS01-T’s effectiveness depends on targeted delivery to the eIF5a gene. Fabrus’s nanocages are protein capsules that allow for custom surface decorations enabling them to be recognized and picked up by specific cells. They can carry payloads like SNS01-T to specified targets and release them on site. Though substantial work is ahead, we believe this could be an ideal delivery system for SNS01-T into cancer cells.

However, the two companies’ complementarity goes much further than simply one pipeline candidate. With Fabrus comes an entire approach to antibody discovery.  An entire array of human antibodies, combined and recombined by activating different gene sequences and organized like a library can be tested against cells to find therapeutic targets for specific diseases. Think of it like an assembly line for drug discovery. From this assembly line, Senesco’s source of future pipeline candidates will be expanded by orders of magnitude. Importantly, this technology allows discovery of antibodies against difficult targets that are often refractory to standard discovery methods, giving us multiple opportunities for first-in-class molecules.

But by far the most exciting aspect of Fabrus’s antibody platform is the June 2013 discovery of cow antibodies with unusual structural features compared with human antibodies. For some peculiar evolutionary reason, possibly having to do with a cow’s unusual digestive system, about 10% of a cow’s antibodies have an active binding surface that is so long that it looks like a mushroom protruding from the molecule’s surface. This is a much longer arm than seen in any human antibody currently known to science.

With a longer antibody arm comes a greater ability to lock on to a target cell, presenting two radical possibilities. First, that these antibodies can lock on to and attack target cells in ways not possible by standard antibody approaches. Second, with Fabrus’ antibody assembly line, it may even be feasible to literally re-engineer the shape of that long arm to lock on to any target cell we want. That may sound difficult, but it could be much simpler than it sounds.

These are just a few tantalizing examples of how the Senesco and Fabrus technological platforms synergize. This is why we both made the logical choice to combine. We look forward to working together with Fabrus’s founder Dr. Smider as well as Dr. Frost to pursue these fascinating and potentially very lucrative possibilities – and of course, to updating you, our shareholders, with our progress as we proceed.


Leave a Reply

  • Shakespeare66

    June 11, 2014 - 10:23 pm

    So how long will it take before the nano cage technology will be able to deliver SNS01-T to the targeted cells? Obviously the need for a better delivery system is what is holding back the results from being anything earth shattering. How long will it take to develop the system of delivery?

    • Harlan Waksal

      Harlan Waksal

      June 13, 2014 - 2:59 pm

      Fortunately we don’t believe that the development of SNS01-T is dependent on adding nanocage delivery technology. It is more likely that nanocage will be used with future eIF5A-based products.

  • peterpinto2011

    June 16, 2014 - 5:59 pm

    harlan im aware that benitec biopharma an australian biotech has a way to knock down a gene permanently using dna directed rnai

    you could use it to knock down a gene like pcsk9 (the holy grail cholesterol gene) permanently what are your thoughts

    • peterpinto2011

      June 24, 2014 - 12:09 am

      you could acquire the rights to pcsk9 from benitec since they are focused on their core pipeline at the moment it would make a great addition to senesco’s pipeline

Harlan W. Waksal, M.D. has been our chairman of the board of directors since June 2009 and a director since October 2008.

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