We are focused on two target therapeutic areas: oncology and immunological diseases.
We have created a broad pipeline of drug candidates. We have taken a chemistry-focused approach to develop highly selective small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors that are intended to have potentially global best-in-class efficacy and are deliberately engineered to improve drug exposure and reduce known class-related toxicities.
Some of our current drug candidates may have the potential to be global first-in-class therapies, while others may be sufficiently differentiated to potentially be global best-in-class, next generation therapies with a superior profile compared to existing approved drugs that act against the relevant kinase targets.
Savolitinib is a potential global first-in-class inhibitor of the mesenchymal epithelial transition factor (c-MET) receptor tyrosine kinase, an enzyme which has been shown to function abnormally in many types of solid tumors. We designed savolitinib as a potent and highly selective oral inhibitor which through chemical structure modification addressed renal toxicity, the primary issue that halted development of several other selective c-MET inhibitors. In clinical studies to date, involving over 500 patients, savolitinib has shown promising signs of clinical efficacy and acceptable safety profile in patients with c-Met gene alterations in papillary renal cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and gastric cancer.
We are currently testing savolitinib in partnership with AstraZeneca in multiple parallel studies, both as a monotherapy and in combination with other targeted therapies.
Fruquintinib is a highly selective small molecule drug candidate that has been shown to inhibit VEGF receptors 24 hours a day via an oral dose, with lower off-target toxicities compared to other targeted therapies. Its tolerability, along with its clean drug-drug interaction profile demonstrated to date, may enable rational combination with other cancer therapies such as in our ongoing clinical trials of fruquintinib in combination with chemotherapy and targeted therapy. VEGF receptors play a pivotal role in tumor-related angiogenesis, and inhibition of VEGFR represents an important therapeutic strategy in blocking the development of new blood vessels essential for tumors to grow and invade.
In partnership with Eli Lilly, Elunate® (fruquintinib capsules) was commercially launched in China in November 2018. We are currently studying fruquintinib in several solid tumor indications, including colorectal cancer, gastric cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, as both monotherapy and in combination with other cancer therapies. We have established a manufacturing (formulation) facility in Suzhou, China, which produces supplies of fruquintinib.
Surufatinib is a novel, oral angio-immuno kinase inhibitor that selectively inhibits the tyrosine kinase activity associated with vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) and colony stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF-1R), three key tyrosine kinase receptors involved in tumor angiogenesis and immune evasion. Inhibition of the VEGFR signaling pathway can act to stop angiogenesis, the growth of the vasculature around the tumor, and thereby starve the tumor of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow rapidly. Aberrant activation of the FGFR signaling pathway, which can be increased by anti-VEGFR therapy treatment, is shown to be associated with cancer progression by promoting tumor growth, angiogenesis and formation of the myeloid derived suppressor cells. Inhibition of the CSF-1R signaling pathway blocks the activation of tumor-associated macrophages, which are involved in suppressing immune responses against tumors. Its unique angio-immuno kinase profile supports sulfatinib as a potentially attractive candidate for exploration of possible combinations with checkpoint inhibitors against various cancers.
Surufatinib is the first oncology candidate that we have taken through proof-of-concept in China and subsequently started clinical development in the U.S. We are currently conducting studies in multiple target patient populations on sulfatinib and retain all rights to sulfatinib worldwide.
A significant portion of patients with non-small cell lung cancer go on to develop brain metastasis. Patients with brain metastasis suffer from poor prognosis. Epitinib is a potent and highly selective oral epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor which has demonstrated brain penetration and efficacy in pre-clinical and now clinical studies. EGFR inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer with EGFR activating mutations. However, approved EGFR inhibitors such as Iressa and Tarceva cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier effectively, leaving the majority of patients with brain metastasis without an effective targeted therapy. We currently retain all rights to epitinib worldwide.
Like epitinib, theliatinib is a novel molecule epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor under investigation for the treatment of solid tumors. Tumors with wild-type EGFR activation, for instance, through gene amplification or protein over-expression, are less sensitive to current EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors, Iressa and Tarceva, due to sub-optimal binding affinity. Theliatinib has been designed with strong affinity to the wild-type EGFR kinase and has been shown to be five to ten times more potent than Tarceva. Consequently, we believe that theliatinib could benefit patients with esophageal and head and neck cancer, tumor-types with a high incidence of wild-type EGFR activation. We currently retain all rights to theliatinib worldwide.
We believe HMPL-523 is a potential global first/best-in-class oral inhibitor targeting spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk), a key protein involved in B-cell signaling. Modulation of the B-cell signaling system has been proven to significantly advance the treatment of certain chronic immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as hematological cancers. To date, only monoclonal antibody immune modulators, which seek to use the patient’s own immune system to treat the disease, have been approved. As an oral drug candidate, we believe HMPL-523 has important advantages over intravenous monoclonal antibody immune modulators in rheumatoid arthritis in that as small molecule compounds clear the system faster, thereby reducing the risk of infections from sustained suppression of the immune system.
Moreover, other drug development companies have tried to design small molecule Syk inhibitors for the treatment of chronic immune diseases, but designing an efficacious and safe Syk inhibitor has proven to be exceptionally difficult. No drug products targeting Syk have been approved to date due to severe off-target toxicity, such as hypertension, as a result of poor kinase selectivity. HMPL-523 is a potent and highly selective oral inhibitor specifically designed to overcome these off-target toxicity issues. We currently retain all rights to HMPL-523 worldwide.
HMPL-689 is a novel, highly selective and potent small molecule inhibitor targeting the isoform phosphoinositide 3’-kinase delta (PI3Kδ), a key component in the B-cell receptor signaling pathway. We have designed HMPL-689 with superior PI3Kδ isoform selectivity, in particular to not inhibit PI3Kɣ (gamma), to minimize the risk of serious infection caused by immune suppression. HMPL-689’s strong potency, particularly at the whole blood level, also allows for reduced daily doses to minimize compound related toxicity, such as the high level of liver toxicity observed with the first-generation PI3Kδ inhibitor. HMPL-689’s pharmacokinetic properties have been found to be favorable with good oral absorption, moderate tissue distribution and low clearance in pre-clinical pharmacokinetic studies. We also expect HMPL-689 will have low risk of drug accumulation and drug-to-drug interaction. Given this, we believe that HMPL-689 has the potential to be a global best-in-class PI3Kδ agent. We currently retain all rights to HMPL-689 worldwide.
HMPL-453 is a novel, potential first-in-class, highly selective and potent small molecule inhibitor that targets fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) 1/2/3, a sub-family of receptor tyrosine kinases. Aberrant FGFR signaling has been found to be a driving force in tumor growth (through tissue growth and repair), promotion of angiogenesis and resistance to anti-tumor therapies. To date, there are no approved therapies specifically targeting the FGFR signaling pathway. In pre-clinical studies, HMPL-453 demonstrated superior kinase selectivity and safety profile as well as strong anti-tumor potency, as compared to drug candidates in the same class. Abnormal FGFR gene alterations are believed to be the drivers of tumor cell proliferation in several solid tumor settings. We currently retain all rights to HMPL-453 worldwide.