MCL1 is a member of the Bcl-2 family, normally acting as a “brake” on the apoptosis pathway. In many human cancers, the Mcl-1 gene is highly amplified, shifting the balance between pro- and anti-apoptotic signals and promoting cancer cell survival and tumor formation.
All cells have intrinsic survival and renewal mechanisms - but cancer finds ways to tilt the balance and allow tumors to grow unchecked.
Compared to drug discovery efforts targeting other Bcl-2 family members, progress versus MCL1 has proven more difficult. The team at Anji solved a key problem for MCL1 – developing a robust platform for structure-based design – that enabled the discovery of ANJ810. This molecule selectively blocks MCL1 function and induces rapid and specific killing of cancer cells in preclinical models when administered as a single agent or in combination with other targeted therapy. Now, it’s full steam ahead to bring this powerful therapeutic agent to patients.