The tumor microenvironment (TME) is the cellular environment in which cancer cells exist. The TME includes blood vessels, immune cells, fibroblasts, signaling molecules such as chemokines and the extracellular matrix. Increasing evidence indicates that the TME has critical roles in all aspects of cancer biology, such as cancer growth, blood vessel growth (angiogenesis and vasculogenesis), tumor spread (metastasis) and progression. Because the TME appears to play a significant role in how effective anti-cancer therapies are at fighting the disease, it is an important aspect to address for cancer treatment, in particular for cancers that respond poorly to available therapies.
Immuno-oncology approaches are focused on re-engaging or re-educating a patient's immune system to recognize cancer cells and stop cancer's ability to grow and escape detection. Cancer can only survive in the body by inhibiting the immune system's normal response to aberrant cells, namely, to attack and destroy. TME Pharma's approach is unique because it disrupts the tumor's ability to exploit the molecular sign-posts guiding moving cells in the body. Simply stated: NOX-A12 removes “do not enter” or “detour” signs that the tumor has generated telling the immune system to travel on and not stop and attack the tumor. Removing these sign-posts means that TME Pharma's drug candidates could facilitate infiltration of anti-cancer immune cells into the tumor microenvironment (TME) in which cancer cells survive and grow.
It is now recognized that chemokines, such as CXCL12 – the target of NOX-A12, create a permissive microenvironment for tumor growth and metastasis and potentially represent an important signaling mechanism for cancer cells to escape immune system detection and anti-cancer treatments. NOX-A12 and NOX-E36 are unique in their ability to bind to two key sites in chemokine proteins to disrupt their activity and target them for destruction. As a result, we believe these molecules can become best-in-class therapeutics targeting the TME.