Study highlights potential of exosomes in targeting mutant KRAS in pancreatic cancer
Cambridge, Mass., June 7, 2017 — Research published online today in the journal NATURE points to a novel approach to targeting KRAS in pancreatic cancer. This research, published as Exosomes Facilitate Therapeutic Targeting of Oncogenic KRAS in Pancreatic Cancer, was carried out in the laboratory of Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The study highlights how exosomes are uniquely suited to target KRAS and pancreatic cancer, a notoriously difficult malignancy to effectively treat.
Key intellectual property relating to this work was licensed to Codiak BioSciences by MD Anderson. Dr. Kalluri, the paper’s senior author, is a scientific co-founder of Codiak, and the research is one of the important building blocks of the company’s technology.
“Dr. Kalluri’s lab’s publication highlights the potential of exosomes as a therapeutic modality,” said Douglas E. Williams, Ph.D., President and CEO of Codiak BioSciences. “The ability to target KRAS and the dramatic effects seen in models of pancreatic cancer illustrate just one possibility for exosomes as therapeutics. Codiak is building and expanding upon these important findings.”
Exosomes are nanometer-sized membrane sacs, or vesicles, that are released and received by all cells. Virtually all bodily fluids contain exosomes, and it is estimated that there are 1,000 times more exosomes than cells in our bodies.
Exosomes are an ancient system of intercellular communication, through which they deliver various molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids) from cell to cell. Upon delivery, exosomal cargo can change biological functions in recipient cells according to the instructions encoded by the payload. Exosomes do not randomly distribute, but rather appear to seek specific cellular targets, thereby offering the potential to deliver diverse therapies to specific cells and modulate cellular function to achieve therapeutic benefit.
Codiak BioSciences is taking advantage of the natural propensity of exosomes to transfer macromolecule payloads between cells.
Codiak, founded in 2015, is a leader in the rapidly developing field of exosome biology. The company was formed on the basis of research from Flagship VentureLabs; the research of Jan Lotvall, M.D., Ph.D., while Chairman of the Krefting Research Centre at University of Gothenburg, Sweden; and from the seminal work of Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Codiak was founded by an investor syndicate led by ARCH Venture Partners and Flagship Pioneering, with participation by Fidelity Management and Research Company, the Alaska Permanent Fund and Alexandria Venture Investments.