Prof. Jongbae Park at National Cancer Center of Korea and his colleagues have discovered that multiple types of cancer cells show elevated expression of LRRK2 under deprivation of nutrients and oxygen. Furthermore, other collaborators of Voronoi have shown that OS (overall survival) of GBM patients with high LRRK2 expression is significantly poorer than those with low LRRK2 expression, suggesting that LRRK2 plays a crucial role in GBM progression
According to the Korean Brain Tumor Society, brain tumor is the third most common type of tumor with 10% of incidence, and the incidence goes up to 20-40% among children. Global population statistics notes that there are 10 new brain tumor patients per 100,000 people and in Korea, there are up to 4,500 new patients annually. Total number of brain tumor patients in Korea is estimated to be around 20,000.
In an orthotopic model of brain tumor, where the tumor cells from the patients are transplanted to mice, we have observed that the survival time of the mice treated with VRN01 was twice as much as those untreated. The preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies have shown brain penetration and safety. Promisingly, we expect to expand into new indications. Normally, LRRK2 is highly expressed only in lung and kidney, but it has shown from biopsy studies that part of patients who have pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, and stomach cancer show high expression of LRRK2 in those tumor cells, suggesting that LRRK2 is also involved in other cancer types. We have shown efficacy in the animal models of gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer, and triple-negative breast cancer that are among the malignant cancers, and are continuing the research to expand into other indications
Voronoi is collaborating with research organizations in Korea and globally that have expertise in each cancer type. Our collaborators include National Cancer Center of Korea, Neurovis, and Delaware State University, and we are under discussion with more research organizations.