Overall cancer survival has significantly improved over the years. Nevertheless, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. Similar statistics are observed in other industrialized countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, among others.
In the United States alone, the National Cancer Institute estimates that 1.8 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and that over 600,000 people died due to cancer. Lung cancer alone accounts for close to 25% of all cancer deaths in the United States, followed by colorectal, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers1.
Standard of care therapy for patients with advanced cancer usually includes chemotherapy, which is toxic and not targeted just to cancer cells. As cancer progresses, it often becomes resistant to these standard chemotherapy approaches. Both healthy and cancerous cells are affected, which can lead to severe side effects and the inability to tolerate further treatment. This can impact the efficacy of treatment or necessitate treatment cessation. At that point, further treatment options for patients with advanced cancer are limited due to resistance that has developed to chemotherapy.
For many years, researchers have tried to develop treatments that would specifically target cancerous cells. Being able to deliver effective treatments directly to cancer cells with better efficacy and without the toxicity of standard chemotherapy would be very beneficial for advanced cancer patients.
It was recently found that the sortilin receptor is preferentially expressed on cancer cells compared to healthy tissues making it an attractive target for the development of new cancer drugs. In fact, sortilin expression increases as a function of tumor grade (I to IV) and is associated with poor prognosis and decreased survival in different cancers. Among others, the sortilin receptor is expressed in ovarian, triple negative breast (TNBC), skin, lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancers. Depending on cancer type, the sortilin receptor is expressed in 40 to 90% of cases.
More information on our clinical trial in oncology can be found here.