Verseon Announces its Third Program Targeting Cancer

September 30, 2020

The program targets an overexpressed protease on the surface of many solid-tumor cancer cells

Fremont, Calif.—Reflecting its continued focus on comprehensively addressing cancer, Verseon today announced the launch of its third cancer program. The target protein for this program is matriptase. Matriptase, also known as Suppression of Tumorigenicity 14 (ST14), is a cell surface serine protease that belongs to a family of the same name. It is frequently overexpressed in many solid tumor cancers including breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, colon, cervix, and skin cancers. Higher protease activity in these tumors is correlated with more metastatic or invasive cancers. Treatment options and survival rates drop dramatically once a cancer has metastasized. Therefore, a matriptase inhibitor that potentially prevents tumor metastasis is likely to be a potent anti-cancer drug. Verseon has developed a series of novel small molecules that the company plans to test against matriptase.

“Down-regulating the expression of matriptase shows a great deal of promise for preventing tumor metastasis,” said Anirban Datta, Verseon’s Senior Director of Discovery Biology. Verseon’s unique physics-driven platform with machine learning-based optimization has allowed the company to design novel chemical scaffolds that selectively bind to specific serine proteases of interest. These precision-engineered binders have unique modes of action and pharmacodynamic properties, as has been successfully demonstrated by Verseon in other drug programs that involve serine proteases. The company is now planning to target matriptase using its proven expertise in developing serine protease inhibitors that cannot be found by any other existing methods.

“We’re thrilled to use our powerful drug discovery platform to combat aggressive forms of cancer,” said Vice President of R&D David Kita.

About Verseon’s other oncology programs

Verseon is pursuing multiple cancer treatment programs. Its first program explores its promising class of tubulin inhibitors to target multidrug resistant cancers. Several drug candidates show potency in functional and cellular assays. Furthermore, Verseon’s inhibitors maintain their efficacy across multiple chemotherapy-resistant cancer cell lines and are either unaffected or only weakly affected by the overexpression of common transporters, a primary source of multidrug resistance.

The company’s second program seeks to upregulate targeted immune response to CD73-positive cancers. Extracellular adenosine acts as a potent immunosuppressant. These tumors suppress the body’s anti-tumor immune response by releasing higher levels of adenosine into the tumor microenvironment.

About Verseon

Verseon Corporation ( is a technology-based pharmaceutical company that pairs a proprietary, computational drug discovery platform with a comprehensive in-house chemistry and biology workflow to develop novel therapeutics that are unlikely to be found using conventional methods. The Company is applying its platform to develop a growing pipeline of drug candidates that address a range of important diseases.

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