Actuate raises $22M to expand GSK-3β cancer trial

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Actuate Therapeutics has raised $21.7 million to take its lead oncology asset deeper into the clinic. The series B round comes shortly after Actuate dosed the first patient in a phase 1/2 trial of glycogen synthase kinase‐3 beta (GSK-3β) 9-ING-41.

9-ING-41 is designed to bind to GSK-3β, disrupting cancer pathways associated with the invasion of tumor cells and resistance to chemotherapeutic agents and radiation. In preclinical tests, the intravenous small molecule showed promise against diseases including urothelial cancer and renal cell carcinoma, leading Actuate to move it into humans late last year.

With Actuate reporting “robust” enrollment in the advanced tumor trial, it has turned to investors to fund the expansion of the clinical program. Kairos Ventures stepped up and, with the support of DEFTA Partners, Tech Coast Angels and Bios Partners, drove Actuate to a series B round.

The money will enable Actuate to expand the phase 1/2 trial beyond the five U.S. sites currently enrolling patients. Actuate plans to add additional U.S. centers and began activating sites in Europe.

Securing the series B monies also positions Actuate to use the phase 1/2 trial as a launchpad for further development of 9-ING-41.  

“We are also focused on using the initial 1801 study data to inform the design of 9-ING-41 regimens for children and adolescents with refractory tumors, with an initial focus on neuroblastoma, where 9-ING-41’s preclinical activity is noteworthy,” Actuate Chief Medical Officer Frank Giles said in a statement.

The interest in neuroblastoma is underpinned by preclinical data released last year. The study linked 9-ING-41 to increased neuroblastoma cell death, particularly when given in combination with the chemotherapy drug irinotecan.

Actuate intends to further expand testing of 9-ING-41 by supporting investigator-initiated trials. Giles called these trials “a high priority” for Actuate as it seeks to quickly gain knowledge of how 9-ING-41 works in humans.