In this Healthcare Channel exclusive interview with Dr Graham Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder of Filamon, we explore the company’s unique approach to drug development, its potential impact on cancer patients and its plans for future growth.
When asked what sets Filamon apart from other companies in the cancer research industry, Dr Kelly highlighted the company’s focus on developing drugs with multiple functions.
“The industry norm has been to identify the faults behind a cell becoming cancerous and then coming up with a drug that blocks one of those faults. That’s been the model for the last 50 or 60 years and the problem with that approach is that virtually all cancers have multiple faults, not single faults,” he explained.
“Filamon is developing drugs that work across multiple mutations and faults because that’s a strategy we believe will yield better outcomes for cancer patients.”
Dr Kelly explained the current state of cancer treatment and how Filamon hopes to improve upon it. ”Once a cancer becomes aggressive and invasive and metastatic, current treatment options are not particularly effective. Different fault lines build up over time and by the time a cancer is late stage, there are just too many fault lines going on inside a cancer for any one drug to work,” he notes.
“Compounding the problem is that these fault lines aren’t just confined to cancer cells. They also occur in all of the other cells in a tumour – the blood vessels, immune cells, fibroblasts and nerve fibres. These so-called normal cells are anything but normal in a tumour. They are under the control of the cancer cells, providing the cancer cells with all they need to grow and spread.”
“These other cells constitute what’s called the Tumor Micro-Environment, or TME. And therein lies the problem – the need to treat multiple fault lines across both the cancer cells AND the TME cells.”
Filamon is at the forefront of this new direction in cancer therapy with three highly promising drug candidates that straddle both halves of the cancer problem – the cancer cells and the TME cells – with each drug designed to hit multiple fault lines.
Dr Kelly said the drugs have come from distinguished medical research institutes in Australia and the United States.
“We identified what we believe are key fault lines in both cancer cells and their neighboring TME cells that have flown under medical science’s radar and that collectively, we believe will correct fault lines responsible for the growth of many forms of cancer.”
One of the three drugs is still in pre-clinical development, but the other two are already in clinical trials.
“One of them, in fact, has completed a Phase One safety trial in prostate cancer patients here in Sydney at the Liverpool Hospital. We’re targeting prostate cancer in the first instance because of the solid evidence that the TME plays a strong role particularly in prostate cancer, in transforming it from a relatively controllable localised disease into an advanced, invasive disease,” Dr Kelly shared.
Dr Kelly went on to highlight that Filamon’s drugs will complement the current anti-cancer treatments when questioned about their potential impact on the cancer community.
“We’re not talking about coming up with a better drug to kill cancer cells. We’re looking to come up with drugs that deal with the fault lines that current anti-cancer drugs miss. By combining them with current anti-cancer drugs, we hope to solve the ‘missing link’ in cancer therapy and potentially offer much better survival outcomes, importantly in a very well-tolerated way.”
While the goal of curing cancer may seem out of reach, Filamon aims to put people into long-term remission and improve the quality of life for those living with cancer.
“Our aim is that we can convert a disease that currently is killing some 10 million people a year into a situation where most of these people can live longer, more comfortable lives unbothered by their cancer,” Dr Kelly ended.