Evolution is the Solution to the Problem of Evolution in Cancer
Prevailing paradigm is to reduce the cause of the cancer to a specific molecular target or a biological process and design a single agent – a small molecule, a biologic or a gene therapy – to drug a specific target. Unfortunately, biology of cancer is far more complex. In fact, 97% of drugs targeting a specific target fail in the clinic. When viewed through the lens of evolutionary biology – the ecology and evolutionary transformation of cancer cells – we realize that this is not surprising because there are multiple biological events and contributors that cause the cancer. Therefore, a truly effective drug needs to be multi-targeted in its action and address the evolutionary dynamics of cancer. Such a drug will be a multiple-agent drug where all molecules act synergistically.
We develop this new class of drugs with a little help from Mother Nature. Nature’s solution to the problem of dealing with multiple biological aberrations is to deploy an ensemble of endogenous metabolites and not a single molecule to have an optimal effect on its target(s). Given that key cellular processes common to plant and human cells are conserved through evolution, the metabolites that the plants produce can bind to human cellular targets. They are structurally and functionally similar to human endogenous metabolites and so we call them Orthologous Molecular Structures (OMS). These molecules, evolutionarily refined over millions of years, have unmatched molecular versatility to “reset” the dysfunctional biological processes that cause cancer and do so much more safely than synthetic drugs. Our bodies have “seen” these molecules before. They are able to be absorbed and transported through the human body, and can bind to human proteins. We leverage this knowledge of evolutionary biology to identify right OMS combinations and turn them into highly effective first-in-class drugs to break new grounds in the treatment and prevention of cancer.