Shasqi uses click chemistry to target cancer

Shasqi, Inc., whose mission is to revolutionize cancer treatment with click chemistry, has entered into a research partnership with Johnson & Johnson Enterprise Innovation Inc.

Through this collaboration, Shasqi will deploy the tumor-targeted Click Activated Protodrugs Against Cancer (CAPAC) platform for the development of new cancer therapies.

Shasqi’s CAPAC platform relies on chemistry, not biology, for drug activation in tumors. This platform consists of two separate components: tumor targeting agents and cancer therapy. These gather at the tumor site, and the cancer therapy is activated via click chemistry, a Nobel Prize-winning technology.

Using this platform, Shasqi targets high doses of cancer drugs directly to tumor sites, while minimizing toxicity to healthy cells. Shasqi was the first company to use click chemistry on humans.

“This is an exciting opportunity to expand our platform,” said José M. Mejía Oneto, Shasqi founder and chief executive.

“We are excited to collaborate and apply click chemistry to potential new therapies in areas of significant unmet medical need.”

The use of click chemistry to activate cancer drugs in tumors has been clinically validated. In the phase 1 study, click chemistry was used to activate doxorubicin doses that were 12 times the conventional dose, with a favorable toxicity profile. Click chemical tumor localization is achieved via intratumor-injected biopolymers. A phase 2a study is currently enrolling patients with soft tissue sarcoma and head and neck cancer.

This collaboration will focus on the intratumorally injected biopolymer (SQL70) from Shasqi and a co-development committee has been formed with the aim of identifying the next clinical candidate.

“This marks the start of Shasqi’s ambition to advance our platform and collaboratively develop next-generation tumor-targeted therapies, expanding on the foundation built by antibody drug conjugates,” said Mukul Agarwal, head of business at Shasqi.

“Reliance on chemistry, not biology for drug activation, allows the use of small molecules, peptides, and antibody fragments to target tumor antigens, creating unprecedented flexibility.”

About Shasqi and CAPAC

Shasqi, a clinical-stage biotechnology company located in San Francisco, uses click chemistry to target high doses of cancer drugs directly to tumor sites while minimizing toxicity to healthy cells, potentially increasing the therapeutic index.

Over the last decade, drug-antibody conjugates (ADCs) have transformed tumor-targeted drug delivery. CAPAC builds on this foundation, transforming what is possible with an approach that extends the progress made by ADC. Shasqi has developed a broad and diverse library of antigen targeting agents and cancer therapeutic payloads. These are separated from each other and reunited at the tumor site via click chemical reactions.

The company opened the phase 2 part of its phase 1/2a clinical study to further evaluate SQ3370 in anthracycline-naïve patients in September 2022.

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