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Snapshot: Aragon Pharmaceuticals

Aragon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Name: Richard Heyman, Ph.D.
Title: President and CEO
Company: Richard Heyman, Ph.D.
Location: San Diego, CA
Aragon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Year Founded: 2009
Number of Employees: 37
Description: Aragon Pharmaceuticals is a privately held, clinical stage small molecule drug discovery company focused on identifying breakthrough cancer therapies to treat hormone driven cancers , such as prostate and breast cancer, which have become resistant to existing first generation antihormonal agents.
Products or Pipeline, Phase: ARN-509 Ph II, prostate cancer; ARN-810 in development for breast cancer

What are some of the hurdles in developing effective new cancer therapies?

The hurdles to developing effective new cancer therapies include costs of developing a successful drug and competitive landscape and attrition during early clinical development.

What are some new approaches that you are using for cancer drug development?

In Aragon’s breast cancer program, we built in the novel criteria for the design of an oral estrogen receptor (ER) antagonist that also promotes the proteosomal degradation of the ER referred to as a SERD (Selective Estrogen Receptor Degrader). The criteria include: 1) imaging and molecular pharmacodynamics markers to optimize dose selection, 2) predictive molecular biomarker development based on biopsy specimen, CTC and circulating tumor DNA, and 3) preclinical and clinical modeling for dose selection.

How have cancer therapies changed in the past decade?

In the past decade, cancer therapies have been focused not only on efficacy but also toxicity and quality of life and the overall benefit and risk of the therapy.

What have been the factors in this change?

There are three major factors in the change in cancer therapies in the past decade. Patients have a higher expectation in terms of quality of life. We have an improved understanding of molecular drivers of cancer. Third party payers have focused on cost versus benefit of cancer treatment.

Where do you see cancer therapies going in the future?

Cancer therapies are going to be more personalized through direction against a specific molecular target.

What effect will this have on the industry? On patients?

Drug development will be mostly driven by molecular drivers of cancer instead of targeting DNA in general with cytotoxic chemotherapy. Combination therapy will be used to target mechanisms of tumor resistance. The ultimate goal is that cancer patients will receive more personalized and efficacious cancer treatment with lower toxicity and better quality of life.


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