Rockland Immunochemicals Inc. has announced that it has received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for 1 million dollars from the National Institutes of Health to develop a pharmacodynamic assay to monitor the Akt/mTOR signaling pathway.
Faulty or aberrant activation of Akt underlies the pathophysiological properties of a variety of complex diseases, including type-2 diabetes, HIV and cancer.
When constitutively activated, AKT is frequently utilized by cancer to circumvent therapeutic intervention, promoting cellular survival as well as resistance chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
With the successful development of assays that monitor levels of Akt as well as Akt isoforms Akt pS473, Akt pT308, Akt2 and Akt3 pre and post treatment, tailored therapies are possible.
“Successfully completing Phase I and being awarded this Phase II SBIR grant validates Rockland’s antibody technology platform,” commented Jim Fendrick, President and CEO of Rockland Immunochemicals.
Fendrick continued, “We anticipate that the assay developed using funds from the SBIR grant will be suitable and useful against a wide range of cancer cells, providing researchers with a robust tool to monitor Akt activity both in basic cancer research and in the context of pharmacodynamic drug studies.”
Rockland’s new Akt assay will address the issues of monitoring Akt activation, measuring total Akt as well as levels of both major forms of phosphorylated Akt at THR308 or SER473, and allow for the calculation of minimal drug inhibiting concentration (IC50) for cancer cells in the presence of mTOR/Akt pathway inhibitors.
To accomplish this goal, Rockland will be working with researchers at New York University, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Alabama-Birmingham.