Akuru Pharma, a new company at SmiLe incubator in Lund, Sweden, has identified a molecule that can be used to diagnose and treat kidney cancer. Today only ten percent of patients with metastasized kidney cancer survive more than five years after diagnosis. The molecule will initially be used for diagnostic purposes and represents an improvement over current methods. In addition, it will be used to monitor the effects of cancer treatment.
Akuru Pharma’s specific molecules will be used in the diagnosis of clear cell kidney cancer, which is the most common form. Around 80 percent of all patients who suffer from kidney cancer have this type. A fluid containing a ligand to the molecule is injected into the patient and then binds to the cancer cells that express the specific molecule. Because the ligands are weakly radioactive, they can be imaged using a gamma camera and show the location of the malignant tumors and whether metastases are present. Because gamma cameras are commonly found in modern hospitals, it will be easy to adopt Akuru Pharma’s methodology.
Kidney cancer generally produces diffuse symptoms, so the patient is not usually diagnosed until the disease has reached an advanced stage after tumors have already metastasized. A shortcoming of today’s diagnostic methods is that they are not specific to kidney cancer and many cases of metastatic cancer can be missed. In addition, there is currently no good way to assess how the cancer is responding to treatment.
“We will start a one-year Phase II clinical trial in patients with kidney cancer in the near future. If all goes well, we should be able to make a positive difference for patients relatively soon. But to develop the company itself, it's really important to get help with business strategies – that’s a whole new journey for us,” says Jennifer Hansson, CEO of Akuru Pharma, who earned her PhD degree at Lund University.
“It's exciting to be able to support companies like Akuru Pharma, where the SmiLe incubator can make a difference so quickly since the actual innovation is already highly advanced,” says Ebba Fåhraeus, CEO of SmiLe Incubator.
Kidney cancer affects 1,000 people annually in Sweden and 340,000 globally. If the cancer has spread, survival after five years is only around 10 percent.
For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Hansson, CEO of Akuru Pharma
Telephone: +46 (0)702 145673