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Blacksmith Medicines To Highlight Preclinical Oncology Data Demonstrating a Potent and Selective FEN1 Inhibitor Has Synergy with Multiple DDR Drug Classes at AACR Annual Meeting 2024

SAN DIEGO, April 10, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Blacksmith Medicines, Inc. (Blacksmith), a leading biopharma dedicated to discovering and developing medicines targeting metalloenzymes, today announced preclinical data on its oncology program targeting flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1), a structure-specific metallonuclease that cleaves 5' DNA flaps during replication and repair, at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024, taking place April 5-10 at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA.

"FEN1 has been identified as an important therapeutic metalloenzyme involved in DNA replication and repair but previous drug discovery efforts have been hampered by chemistry limitations resulting in inhibitors lacking potency and selectivity," said Zachary Zimmerman, Ph.D. CEO of Blacksmith.  "Using our metalloenzyme fragment-based drug discovery approach, we have identified a highly potent and selective inhibitor of FEN1 having synergies with multiple DDR drug classes that include inhibitors of PARP, PARG, USP1, and ATR."

The Blacksmith fragment-based drug discovery platform identified a novel metal-binding pharmacophore that binds to the two magnesium ions in the FEN1 active site. Further elaboration using fragment growth strategies resulted in highly potent and selective inhibitors. The current lead (BSM-1516) is ~65-fold more potent against FEN1 than its related enzyme Exonuclease 1 (Exo1) in biochemical assays (IC50 of 7 nM and 460 nM, respectively), an improvement of more than an order of magnitude in selectivity compared to earlier efforts. FEN1 target engagement in live cells was validated by cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA EC50 of 24 nM). Inhibition of FEN1 led to its increased association with chromatin in S-phase cells and recruitment of PARP1 enzyme.

In clonogenic assay, BRCA2-deficient DLD1 cells were ~15-fold more sensitive to FEN1 inhibition than their isogenic BRCA2-wild-type counterparts (EC50 of 350 nM and 5 µM, respectively), confirming the increased susceptibility of HR deficient cancer cells to FEN1 inhibition. Treatment of BRCA2-deficient but not wild-type DLD1 cells with BSM-1516 resulted in cell cycle arrest accompanied by DNA damage signaling and accumulation of chromatin-bound RPA32, a marker of ssDNA.

In FEN1-inhibitor-anchored CRISPR screen, it was observed that perturbations in EXO1, USP1, PARP1 and HR pathway genes sensitized cells to FEN1 inhibition. Synergistic relationships of BSM-1516 and its combination potential were further explored in viability studies with a panel of DDR inhibitors (n=25) in BRCA2-proficient and deficient cell lines. Strong synergy was identified with multiple drug classes that included inhibitors of USP1 (KSQ-4279), PARP (Olaparib, Niraparib, Talazoparib, AZD5305), PARG (PDD 00017273) and ATR (AZD6738, VE-822, Elimusertib).

In vitro ADME assays and in vivo PK studies showed that BSM-1516 has properties suitable for in vivo testing, either as a single agent or in combination with synergistic DDR inhibitors, an investigation that is currently underway.

Poster presentation details

Abstract Number: 7148
Title: "Small molecule inhibitor of FEN1 nuclease utilizing a novel metal binding pharmacophore synergizes with inhibitors of USP1, PARP, PARG and ATR"
Session Category: Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics
Session Title: Novel Antitumor Agents 6
Session Date and Time: Wednesday April 10, 2024 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Poster Section 23
Poster Board Number: 10

About FEN1
Flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1) is a structure-specific di-magnesium metallonuclease that cleaves 5' DNA flaps during replication and repair. FEN1 is an attractive target for development of anticancer therapeutics because it is overexpressed in many tumor types and has a large number of synthetic lethality partners including genes in Homologous Recombination (HR) pathway.

About metalloenzymes and the Blacksmith platform
Metalloenzymes utilize a metal ion cofactor in the enzyme active site to perform essential biological functions.  This diverse class of targets has historically been difficult to drug due to small molecule chemistry limitations that have plagued the industry.  The Blacksmith metalloenzyme platform has solved this problem by leveraging the following:

  • A large proprietary fragment library of metal-binding pharmacophores (MBPs);
  • A comprehensive database containing a full characterization of the metalloenzyme genome including functions, metal cofactors, and associations to disease;
  • A first-of-its-kind metallo-CRISPR library of custom single guide RNAs;
  • An industry-leading metalloenzyme computational toolkit for docking, modeling and structure-based drug design; and
  • A robust and blocking intellectual property estate covering bioinorganic, medicinal, and computational chemistry approaches for metalloenzyme-targeted medicines.

About Blacksmith Medicines
At Blacksmith Medicines, we are developing medicines targeting metal-dependent enzymes.  Over 30% of known enzymes are metalloenzymes, covering all major enzyme classes: oxidoreductases, transferases, hydrolases, lyases, isomerases, and ligases.  Metal ions, including magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese and copper, are the essential ingredient in these metalloenzymes.  We recognized a large unmet need for new chemical matter and innovative approaches to drug this important class of enzymes.  Our purpose-built platform for metalloenzyme-targeted medicines combines, for the first time in industry, a focused library of metal-binding pharmacophores with proprietary computational modeling approaches to rapidly and rationally design small molecule inhibitors that interact with key metal ions in the enzyme's active site.  Our comprehensive knowledge of the metal environment and key active site interactions enables Blacksmith to rapidly build potent and selective inhibitors in a stepwise and predictable manner.

Blacksmith has executed strategic drug discovery collaborations with Basilea Pharmaceutica International Ltd., Cyteir Therapeutics Inc., Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly), Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., and Zoetis LLC., and has been awarded non-dilutive Federal funding agreements with CARB-X and NIH/NIAID.  Blacksmith investors include Lilly, Evotec A.G., MP Healthcare Partners, MagnaSci Ventures, and Alexandria Venture Investments.

For further information, please visit the company's website and LinkedIn

Media Contact:
Amy Conrad
Juniper Point

(PRNewsfoto/Blacksmith Medicines)


SOURCE Blacksmith Medicines