June 7, 2022

OnKure doses first study patient with skin cancer drug combination

BOULDER — OnKure Inc. has provided its first study patient with drugs in its trial of a skin cancer therapy combination of OKI-179 and a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase enzymes, or MEK, inhibitor,

OKI-179 is thought to treat skin cancers by inhibiting activity caused by a specific mutation in NRAS, a genetic marker that is susceptible to mutation into an aggressive cancer-producing cell. The U.S. National Institutes of Health estimates that 15% to 20% of all melanomas are caused by that specific genetic mutation.

“We are pleased to advance the clinical development of our lead candidate, OKI-179, and for the first time, investigate its potential in combination with a [mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase enzymes] inhibitor,” OnKure chief medical officer Jennifer Diamond said in a prepared statement. “The combination of [histone deacetylase] inhibition with MEK inhibition is synthetically lethal in RAS-pathway mutated cancers, resulting in increased tumor regressions by inducing DNA damage that is not seen with either agent alone. Given the favorable safety and tolerability profile of OKI-179, we believe its synergistic combination with binimetinib has the potential to be an effective treatment option for patients diagnosed with this highly aggressive melanoma.”

In 2020, OnKure and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) began the process to initiate a proof-of-concept study for OnKure’s drug candidate OKI-179 in combination with Pfizer’s already-approved Mektovi drug.

Mektovi was originally developed by the formerly Boulder-based Array Biopharma, which Pfizer acquired last year for $11 billion.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.

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