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Auransa Collaborates with USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center to Study AU409 in Liver Cancer Clinical Trial

AU409 trial to be conducted by Dr. Anthony El-Khoueiry at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Southern California

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA, USA, March 23, 2023/ -- Auransa Inc., a clinical stage drug development company with a propriety AI drug discovery platform to identify novel drug candidates for oncology, CNS and inflammatory diseases, today announced a broad collaboration with the University of Southern California (USC). This collaboration includes the evaluation of AU409 in a Phase 1 study at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (USC Norris), Keck School of Medicine, in patients with advanced primary liver cancers and patients with advanced solid tumors with liver predominant metastatic disease.

“The collaboration with the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer is an important first step in the clinical development of AU409 which is a new chemical entity with a unique mechanism of action. We plan to work closely with the team at USC to advance this very differentiated potential new drug for patients with liver cancers, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), who may not respond to the currently available drugs.” said Pek Lum, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of Auransa.

The clinical program’s principal investigator is Dr. Anthony El-Khoueiry, a leading expert in early drug development for solid tumors, particularly gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. El-Khoueiry is the Director of the phase I program and Associate Director for Clinical Research at Norris Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“We are excited at the potential impact our collaboration with Auransa can have for patients with solid tumors with liver predominant disease, in particular patients with hepatocellular cancer and cholangiocarcinoma. AU409 has a unique mechanism of action that impacts gene expression in the tumor and may represent a novel therapeutic approach for these tumors with high unmet need.” said Dr. El-Khoueiry.

“Dr. El-Khoueiry’s clinical trial experience spanning first-in-human, phase 2 and phase 3 trials, together with his interest in liver cancer, makes him the perfect lead of the AU409 clinical trial.” said Andrew Protter, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Auransa.

Auransa and USC are also collaborating on a broader approach to bring novel and much needed therapeutics to cancer patients, leveraging both Auransa’s proprietary discovery platform for the discovery of novel disease mechanisms and capabilities from the Rosalie and Harold Rae Brown Center for Cancer Drug Development at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“The Brown Center for Cancer Drug Development takes an integrated academic-industry approach to achieve our mission of accelerating promising oncology therapeutics into the clinic through collaborative drug development,” said Caryn Lerman, PhD, Director of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Associate Dean for Cancer Programs in the Keck School of Medicine at USC. “Together with Auransa, we are optimistic that we can develop new therapeutics for patients in need and further our mission.”

Disclosure: If this trial is successful, USC has the potential to receive royalty payments under the collaboration agreement with Auransa.

About AU409
AU409 is a novel small molecule with oral activity in models of hepatocellular carcinoma. In preclinical studies, AU409 has been shown to modulate transcription of certain genes thereby altering the gene expression profile of liver cancer cells. The mechanism of action of AU409 is distinct from that of current drugs approved for HCC including the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as sorafenib or regorafenib. Non-clinical safety, toxicology and genetic toxicology studies support the first in human clinical studies being proposed. The FDA has approved the initiation of a phase 1 trial with AU409.

About Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Despite major improvements in the treatment of primary liver cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma, patients with advanced disease continue to have limited median overall survival due to primary or secondary resistance to existing therapies. While chronic hepatitis B and C infections continue to be important risk factors for liver cancer, the rising prevalence of obesity, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and alcohol consumption are becoming the dominant risk factors for liver cancer in the United States as well as the rest of the world. Liver cancer has recently been estimated to be the third most common cancer-related death worldwide.

About University of Southern California’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (USC Norris), located in Los Angeles, is a major regional and national resource for cancer research, treatment, prevention, education, and community engagement. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has designated the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center as one of the nation’s 52 comprehensive cancer centers, a select group of institutions providing leadership in cancer treatment, research, prevention, and education. USC Norris has held this designation since 1973, at which time it was named as one of the first eight such centers in the country. The Rosalie and Harold Rae Brown Center for Cancer Drug Development (CCDD) at the USC Norris was launched in 2020 with a generous gift from the Rosalie and Harold Rae Brown Foundation. The CCDD employs an integrated academic-industry-focused management model to engage investigators from different disciplines, collapse gaps in expertise, resources, and funding, and ensure that programs have a high likelihood of progressing to the clinic.

About Auransa
Auransa is an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven pharmaceutical company developing precision medicines in areas of significant unmet need. The company is working to redefine medicine, by combining a sophisticated, proprietary, and predictive computational platform with traditional pharmaceutical experience. The company's SMarTR™ Engine has proprietary machine learning, advanced analytics, and mathematics in an AI framework to generate insights from molecular data for a deep understanding of disease biology at subtype resolution. Auransa has successfully generated a broad pipeline of drug candidates focusing on cancer and cancer care. Learn more at

Viwat Visuthikraisee
Auransa Inc.
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