PharmAkea is a biopharmaceutical company based in San Diego, CA. The company is developing high-quality, small molecule drug candidates against protein targets involved in fibroproliferative diseases.

Fibrosis

Organ fibrosis is a pathological condition that results in excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) and results in impaired organ function. Extracellular matrix is composed of a variety of macromolecules that comprise the scaffolding of all organs and includes collagen proteins, glycoproteins and proteoglycans. Fibrosis affects many organs following tissue injury and/or excessive inflammation, including the lungs, liver and kidneys and has become a major cause of death in the developed world. PharmAkea is targeting proteins whose products are known to increase production and/or decrease degradation of ECM molecules, primarily collagen I, and lead to organ dysfunction.


Increased collagen staining (blue) in a liver section from
a patient with liver cirrhosis (advanced fibrosis).

Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death world-wide. Cancer cells grow uncontrollably and can migrate and invade nearby parts of the body. In addition, cancer cells can spread to non-adjacent or distant organs in a process called metastasis. Cancer metastases account for over 90% of patient deaths and therefore the process of metastasis remains a major focus of cancer research. Science suggests that fibrosis creates a microenvironment that enhances cancer metastasis, and cancers in which fibrosis plays a significant role include pancreatic, liver and breast. PharmAkea is targeting proteins whose products are known to not only enhance proliferation and survival of tumor cells, but also to promote the migration and invasion of the cells.


Left panel shows tumor cells (blue) that migrated in absence of stimulation.
Right panel shows increased migration of tumor cells to cancer promoting molecule.