Industry Articles| Discovering Biotech Startups
This branch of our Sponsor Atlas series focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In the next edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Canget BioTekpharma, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging New York-based stealth biotech company. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.
Canget BioTekpharma, LLC (Canget) is a startup biotech company and was spun off in 2012 from Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). Canget focuses on the development of novel, cancer-targeting anticancer agents that exhibit low toxicity to normal tissue and high efficacy to cancer.
The research team at Canget intends to develop novel, cancer-targeting agents. The company provides highly effective, low toxic therapies for patients, enabling the healthcare industry to dramatically improve patient survival time and survival rate through controlling cancer cell drug resistance and tumor relapse. Canget BioTekpharma has a fully developed website that is full of information about their executive team, product development, and R&D pipeline. The company was established in New York as a C-Corp on 4/26/2012, and they are currently categorized as doing work under Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and Healthcare. Canget BioTekpharma’s principal place of business, as noted on their business entity search, is located at 102 Surrey Run, Buffalo, NY, 14221, but after more research, it looks like their headquarters may have moved to 701 Ellicott St., Buffalo, NY 14203. Business data also shows that the company has an annual revenue of $135,540 and employs a staff of approximately 1-10. 
RPCI is also a partner of Canget, which is considered to be the first cancer institution (founded in 1898) in the history of the US and is a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. The RPCI team unites cancer prevention, treatment, and patient care, cancer research, and education all into one location. RPCI has expanded its educational programs, including an international program for the training of cancer scientists, clinicians, and administrators from around the world. RPCI has successfully recruited top management from around the world and has invested $277 million in resources for the future to build on RPCI's unique opportunities.
Canget has received a lot of funding over the years, including multiple SBIR grants totaling over $2.5M, as well as from other angel investors, accelerators, and governmental organizations. They also have an upcoming multi-million dollar investment designated for preclinical trials in the near future. In 2019, Canget executed a couple of funding investment agreements with investors from China, USA, and other countries to help with speeding up the development of their lead candidates for moving into clinical trials for the indications of advanced colorectal cancer and advanced pancreatic cancer, followed by other later stage and metastatic cancer types. Many of these investments have already been dispersed as of early 2020.
Even though there isn’t much online information about any outsourcing needs, their recent investment activities, SBIR funding, valuable patents, and internal capital shows that Canget is ready to launch a unique development pipeline with innovative and potentially valuable discoveries in anti-cancer therapeutics with more on that in the next section. Canget is somewhat early in development and they will be working through the usual steps before reaching the market with potential products. Their prospective pipeline of products consists of platform-derived anticancer drugs for personalized cancer patient precision medicine. Any experience in anti-cancer technologies would be of tremendous benefit to Canget at this point.
We think business development teams in the realms of anti-cancer development, preclinical programs with cancerous animal model development, and CMOs focused on precision medicine should have Canget on their radar over the next few years.
Canget BioTekpharma’s Pipeline and R&D Focus
As mentioned above, Canget is a start-up company focused on developing novel therapies to help patients defeat the many types of difficult to treat cancers. The lead antitumor drug at Canget is a novel small molecule called FL118, discovered through compound library screening by using the cancer-associated survivin gene as a target and biomarker, followed by a series of in vitro and in vivo hit-to-lead analyses. The Canget research team found that FL118 has exceptional efficacy against advanced and treatment-resistant human tumors with a very safe toxicity profile. For example, toxicity studies in beagle dogs with FL118 at the low, middle, and high doses calculated from the mouse maximum tolerated dose indicated that only at the high dose, a few of the 39 hematopoietic and biochemical parameters tested slightly changed without other FL118-related clinical observations including dog behavior, food consumption, and body weights. 
As many in the industry already know, cancer is a complex genetic and epigenetic disease with high genetic instability. Specifically, cancer has multiple gene mutations, aberrant expression, and/or alterations. Some of the universal changes in cancer involving treatment resistance include overexpression, constitutive activation of antiapoptotic and oncogenic proteins, DNA repair regulators, and efflux pump proteins, as well as the loss of tumor suppressor activity. The other characteristic of cancer is its heterogeneity where even in the same cancer type or even in the same patient’s tumor at different tumor locations, the cancer molecular profile can be different. Therefore, personalized precision medicine by targeting a particular genetic mutation or epigenetic changes at a particular point in time for cancer, would not be sufficient to control cancer, especially for advanced cancers with metastasis. Canget believes two options may resolve cancer situations. Either one drug to target and bypass multiple cancer treatment resistance mechanisms, or to use multiple drugs through combination treatment. However, the multiple drug combination treatment approach is likely to result in a serious toxicity side effect issue, so the former strategy is the most desirable and ideal therapy if it can be put into practice. Ultimately, the technology owned by Canget matches this situation. 
After these initial studies, FL118 appears to be a very promising candidate for the effective treatment of human PDAC cancer. FL118 is chemically and physiologically stable, orally available, and accumulated in the tumor after either oral, intraperitoneal or intravenous administration. FL118 also shows low toxicity to normal tissues, and not only targets survivin but also targets or bypasses many other important oncogenic/antiapoptotic and treatment-resistant protein factors. All of these unique characteristics make FL118 an excellent drug to potentially eliminate cancer, especially PDAC cancer. Additionally, Canget has demonstrated that FL118 is also a unique drug platform for generating novel FL118 analogues that could exhibit extremely high efficacy in certain cancer mutation situations for a more broad personalized precision medicine. 
Another solid achievement is that Canget has strong intellectual property protection for its technology. The FL118 and novel formulation patent has been licensed to Canget from the Canget business partner, Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Their patents are protected worldwide including in the US, European, China/Hong Kong, and Canada. Canget was recently issued its comprehensive FL118 platform patent from the US, with several patents including the one that uses FL118 in combination with immunotherapy for cancer treatments like multiple myeloma. 
- Geoffrey White, Ph.D. - Dr. White currently is the Drug Consulting Officer (DCO). He was the previous interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Canget and stepped down in August 2019 for focusing on other business affairs as DCO. Dr. White received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1985. He has worked in the biotechnology sector since 1990, starting as a lab scientist and taking on positions of increasing responsibility up to the executive level. He has run drug discovery programs that resulted in deals with big Pharma and have had leadership roles on teams that have resulted in over 10 INDs being filed. He has negotiated numerous contracts and license agreements with companies such as Bayer, Nestle, Texas Inst, Archemix, and others. He also serves on the boards of several drug discovery and medical device companies such as United Virology (a subsidiary of United Therapeutics Corp.), NovelMed, Microtransponder Inc, Cytonics Corp., Rosselini Scientific, and others. Dr. White has published numerous articles in high impact peer-reviewed journals. 
- Fengzhi Li, Ph.D. - Dr. Li is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of the Canget BioTekpharma company. The research in his academic laboratory has been supported by federal agencies (NIH/NCI, DOD) and various public/private foundations. Dr. Li has been initially involved in the characterization of the anti-apoptotic survivin gene and is one of the top leading scientists in the survivin research field. In the past decade, he has developed an outstanding scientific career and published over 50 peer-reviewed articles in the drug resistance and anti-apoptosis cancer research field relevant to the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) and Bcl-2 family proteins. He was reported to be in the top 5% of cited authors for the Journals relevant to Biology and Biochemistry. He is also a member of many scientific societies including the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS). He has published over 80 peer-review articles with a total citation of over 12,000 times. 
- Alex A. Adjei, MD, Ph.D., FACP - Dr. Adjei currently is the Professor of Oncology and a leader in clinical trials at the national renewal institute of Mayo Clinic with more scientific and clinical focus and duty. He is one of the top national renewal scientists and clinicians at the interface of translational and clinical cancer research, treatment, and patient care. Previously, Dr. Ajei was the Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine, and Senior Vice-President for Clinical Research and Katherine Anne Gioia Chair of Cancer Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, USA. Dr. Adjei completed an internal medicine residency at Howard University in Washington DC and a medical oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. He has been a Professor of Oncology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, as well as a Consultant in Oncology at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation. Dr. Adjei's research is focused on the development of novel agents for the therapy of solid tumors. In the clinic, his work has focused on the assessment of toxicity, pharmacology, and initial activity of selected agents and regimens in early clinical trials, development of biomarkers of drug effect, as well as phase II clinical trials of novel agents in cancer. He is interested in both the elucidation and research of mechanisms of action and resistance of novel agents that inhibit cell signaling. 
- Mansukh Wani, Ph.D. - Dr. Wani has a distinguished scientific career. He co-discovered Taxol and Camptothecin, two of the world's most widely used anti-cancer medications. Dr. Wani, in partnership with the late Dr. Monroe Wall, reported the structure of camptothecin and Taxol, which were found in plants in 1966 and 1971, respectively. These compounds, and their derivatives today, represent nearly one-third of all anti-cancer medications on the market. Dr. Wani has earned an extensive list of prestigious awards for his work. These include the Charles F. Kettering Prize which recognizes the world's most outstanding contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the Bruce F. Cain Memorial Award given by the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute Award of Recognition, the Indiana University Distinguished Alumni Award for significant contributions to the world through a commitment to science and research, and the North Carolina Award, the state's highest achievement. 
Drug toxicity with limited antitumor efficacy, cancer resistance to treatment, and cancer metastasis are the major challenges in cancer management. Therefore, the development of novel, cancer-targeting agents that address these challenges would be of the utmost importance to win the war against cancer. Canget is looking to dramatically improve cancer patient survival times and survival rates through eliminating cancer cell drug resistance and tumor metastasis/relapse by providing highly effective, low toxic, and cancer-targeting anticancer agents for cancer patients. Establishing a best practice under a good enterprise culture is also a foundation for the company where the success of Canget in innovation and drug development could lead to a significant improvement in the quality of life and life span for cancer patients. Meanwhile, the prosperity of Canget could give the company an ability to allocate deserved compensations to owners, employees, collaborators, and other contributors, while contributing local communities and national economies as well as making returns to the society through various types of charitable activities.
Canget and Roswell Park have found that the chemical core structure of FL118 is a great novel drug-generating platform for producing a series of FL118 analogues with overlapping but distinct targeting scope profiles. These observations trigger new perspectives and possibilities, such as developing a series of FL118 platform-derived analogues for personalized precision medicine to conquer cancers that possess different genetic, epigenetic, or aberrant gene expression alterations. Importantly, this notion has been proven in the past 5 years through Canget’s studies of nearly a hundred of FL118 platform-derived anticancer drugs. In summary, Canget believes that based on patient data, these personalized precision treatments for cancer using predefined FL118 platform-derived anticancer drugs would be synergistically enhanced and optimized through the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. This is only the beginning for Canget and we expect to see a lot more activity from them soon, so be sure to contact them if you’re interested in helping with their early studies.
How can I find more New York-based biotech startups?
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