Aura Biosciences, announced that researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE), Emory University and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have generated preclinical data that demonstrate the ability of light-activated AU-011 to target and selectively destroy ocular melanoma tumors, both in vitro and in vivo, in an orthotopic animal model that highly mimics the location and progression of the disease in humans. These results have been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
Aura’s lead program, light-activated AU-011, is being developed for the treatment of primary ocular melanoma, a rare and life-threatening disease with no approved FDA therapies, and is currently in phase 1b/2 clinical testing. Researchers believe AU-011’s high tumor specificity and targeting capability, due to its ability to selectively bind to heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG) on the surface membrane of tumor cells, may be key to avoiding damage to the main ocular structures and preserving patients’ vision
“These data offer strong support for the basis of our clinical program, which we are currently investigating in patients with primary ocular melanoma,” Elisabet de los Pinos, PhD, founder and CEO of Aura, said in a company news release. “Our ultimate goal is to offer a first-line treatment option that can achieve local tumor control, while enabling patients to maintain their vision.”
Currently available treatment options to control local tumor growth, such as plaque radiotherapy, are highly invasive and not tumor-specific, often resulting in severe and vision-threatening complications. The data published today suggest that AU-011 may be further investigated as a novel first-line treatment option that can enable early intervention and potentially become the standard of care for patients with early-stage ocular melanoma.