The drug, known as WP1066, is modeled after a natural compound that has certain tumor-fighting properties. WP1066 amplifies these properties to potent levels, and it can cross the blood-brain barrier.
WP1066 belongs to a class of drugs known as STAT3 inhibitors; they prevent tumors from using the STAT3 pathway to evade the immune system. WP1066 can also induce tumor cell death. It’s effective against human glioblastoma in preclinical models. The next step is to see if this unique drug is effective when given to glioblastoma patients.
Currently, WP1066 is in the final stages of FDA review before it can go to a clinical trial. It took more than 10 years, and approximately $5 million to get it to this point, including generous support from The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, NIH grants and finally, the commercial sponsor. Priebe, a professor of Experimental Therapeutics at MD Anderson, started working on WP1066 development in 2005 with the late Dr. Charles Conrad, a former MD Anderson neuro-oncologist who passed away in 2015.
“Charles was a very innovative neuro-oncologist who understood the basic science behind WP1066,” Priebe says. “It would be a fitting tribute to him to achieve our goal of developing a new drug for brain tumor patients.”