Children's Health

Zentalis contributes $1 million to SU2C Catalyst program for research into targeted cancer therapeutics

Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) and Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced that Zentalis will contribute $1 million to the SU2C Catalyst® program to support research that investigates the use of certain small molecule inhibitors for treating a variety of cancer types.

Through the SU2C Catalyst® program, companies donate funds and products to collaborative research studies, in which use of the companies’ products or materials is incorporated into the research.

Those materials might include new pharmaceutical compounds that companies are developing or approved agents that can be investigated for other uses. Research supported by the new Zentalis grant will explore how small molecule inhibitors under development by Zentalis have the potential, alone or in combination, to treat cancers. A primary goal of SU2C Catalyst program is to encourage collaborative research between academics and companies and shorten the time it takes to get new treatments to patients.

Zentalis Pharmaceuticals’ contribution to our SU2C Catalyst program is greatly appreciated; I’m excited to see how we can bring better treatments to patients faster through this collaboration. Small molecule inhibitors hold substantial promise as targeted cancer therapeutics, giving researchers the opportunity to develop more specific and targeted therapies with fewer side effects. The ability to access Zentalis’ pipeline of novel small molecule inhibitors will provide a wonderful opportunity to the SU2C research portfolio.”

Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, CEO of SU2C

Unlike traditional cancer therapeutics that broadly kill rapidly dividing cells, small molecule inhibitors are targeted anti-cancer drugs that are usually taken orally and block specific proteins used by tumor cells for survival, growth or spread. One such candidate under development by Zentalis, ZN-c3, is designed to block a protein called Wee1, which is present at high levels in many cancer types. Research demonstrates that inhibiting Wee1 can cause cell death in some tumors that depend on the protein; Zentalis is currently conducting ongoing monotherapy and combination studies evaluating its Wee1 inhibitor in patients.

“By establishing a mechanism through which industry and academic scientists collaborate, we can accelerate the development and commercialization of new treatments,” said Lee Helman, MD, vice chair of SU2C’s Scientific Advisory Committee, director of the Osteosarcoma Institute and adjunct professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Cancer and Blood Disease Institute, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. “It will be intriguing to see how our SU2C-funded researchers can utilize Zentalis’ ZN-c3 to study the role of Wee1 in tumor growth in depth and use this information to potentially develop new therapeutic strategies utilizing Wee1 inhibition. The insights from these studies can have a great impact given the prevalence of Wee1 activation in many types of cancer.”

In addition to ZN-c3, Zentalis’ pipeline includes numerous small molecule inhibitors aimed at treating a range of cancers, including breast cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-small cell lung cancer.

“We are proud to support the SU2C Catalyst program and the collaborative research process that it enables,” commented Dr. Anthony Sun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Zentalis. “When industry and academic partners work together, we are better equipped to uncover research breakthroughs and quickly advance promising therapies through the clinic in hopes of making a difference in patients’ lives.”

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