Aphios Executes MTA with NCI for Natural Products to Discover & Develop Anticancer & Antiviral Therapeutics
March 16, 2004
Woburn, MA— Aphios Corporation has executed a Material Transfer Agreement with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health (NIH) to access its natural products repository of terrestrial plants and marine organisms.

"Over the last three decades (1981-2002) and covering all diseases, countries and sources, 52% of the 1,031 new chemical entities (NCEs), 60% of anticancer drugs and 71% of anti-infectives approved by regulatory authorities were based on natural products isolated from terrestrial plants and microorganisms." Dr. David Newman, NCI.

Despite these statistics, many pharmaceutical companies have eliminated or significantly downsized their natural products research over the last two decades. This shift was made to explore the promise of high-throughput screening of mass-produced combinatorial libraries against the many disease targets that have been developed as a result of the explosion of biologic and genetic information, and the sequencing of the human genome. This paradigm shift has not resulted in the expected surge in productivity in the discovery pipeline. In fact, the number of NCEs has hit a 20-year low of 17 in 2002 and is still declining. This decline in productivity is caused, in part, by the shift from screening natural products molecules that have been honed by millions of years of evolutionary development to screening simple organic structures that can be readily manipulated by combinatorial chemistry.

In the last decade, Aphios has addressed some of the critical issues of natural products drug discovery by developing and patenting core enabling technologies for the rapid preparation of partially purified natural product mixtures that minimize false positives and negatives in sensitive biological screens. Aphios has also developed and patented core enabling technologies for the cost-effective manufacturing of rare and complex natural product molecules. Trevor Castor, CEO, Aphios states, "While we have several promising anticancer and antiviral leads in development, access to the world-class natural products resource of the NCI combined with our drug discovery and manufacturing technologies will further deepen our product development pipeline."

Aphios Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company that is developing enhanced natural therapeutics for health maintenance and the treatment of human diseases with a focus on infectious diseases, oncology and quality-of-life (QOL) medicines.