CD73, also called, ecto-5′-nucleotidase(NT5E), is a cell surface protein that catalyzes the final step of generating extracellular adenosine from ATP, the cellular energy molecule. Presence of adenosine in the extracellular environment locally suppresses immune cells. Many tumor cells express CD73 as a way to evade being targeted and eliminated by the immune system. An estimated 45% of gastric cancer, 47% of renal cell carcinomas and 70% of ovarian cancers express high levels of CD73.
Verseon has generated a novel series of non-nucleotide CD73 inhibitors, fundamentally distinct from other compounds currently in development, that hold promise to reactivate immune response to CD73-positive cancers.