Context Therapeutics, a Philadelphia-based biotech, is collaborating with three leading institutions for research into the Sigma1 protein and its role in diseases. The institutions are Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, and Fondation Synergie Lyon Cancer.
The Sigma1 protein helps regulate the immune system and create stability in the body. Context Therapeutics has developed a method to explore the differences between healthy and diseased cells based on the protein and its binding partners.
Context will team up with field experts to study Sigma1’s biology and evaluate its role in animal models. The team will also study the activity of proprietary Sigma1 inhibitors in animal models, human cellular systems, and biopsy explant models.
Context has already developed small, orally bioavailable, first-in-class molecules for advanced stages of prostate cancer. The company is now interested in pursuing programs based on Sigma1 inhibitors for fibrosis and neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Felix Kim, co-founder of Context, is a pioneer in allosteric modulation of the Sigma1 protein — a technique which uses a desired “effector” molecule to bind at a site of Sigma1 other than the active site to produce a specific effect. This enables the effector molecule to indirectly influence and produce certain actions. Kim aims to use this technology to create first-in-class therapies for fibrosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.
The three experts who will collaborate with Context and conduct preclinical studies for specific diseases are:
- Elahe Mostaghel, MD, PhD, principal investigator at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in a project titled, “Role of Sigma1 and effect of proprietary Sigma1 inhibitors on androgen receptor in animal models of castration resistant prostate cancer (CPRC).”
- Pierre Saintigny, MD, PhD, principal investigator at Fondation Synergie Lyon Cancer, in a project titled, “Validation of Sigma1 biomarker for patient enrichment in prostate cancer biopsy explant model.”
- Cory Hogaboam, PhD, principal investigator at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in a project titled, “Role of Sigma1 and effect of proprietary Sigma1 inhibitors in pulmonary fibrosis.”
“Context prides itself on being deeply connected with a broad network of scientists conducting cutting-edge research on the role of Sigma1 in the biology of cancer, fibrosis, and neurodegenerative disease,” Martin Lehr, co-founder and CEO of Context Therapeutics, said in a press release.
“These collaborators will help us expand our biology effort and advance our understanding of how best to target Sigma1 and maximize the potential our inhibitors may have for patients,” Lehr added.