New UMiami spinout applies Nobel Prize winner’s GHRH work to cancer, heart disease

Dr. Andrew V. Schally

A new company spun out of the University of Miami is taking the work of a Nobel Prize-winning endocrinologist and turning it into drug candidates for treatment of cancer and heart disease.

Dr. Andrew V. Schally is a pioneer in the field of growth hormone-releasing hormone drugs (GHRH), winning the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1977 for his work on how the brain controls hormone-producing glands. He’s serving as the scientific adviser for Biscayne Pharmaceuticals Inc., which has just raised $1.5 million to advance GHRH drugs developed in his lab initially for treatment of resistant prostate cancer and heart disease.

The financing was led by the Reich Group, whose managing partner Samuel Reich will become CEO of Biscayne. “We will apply the proceeds of this first financing to further develop our infrastructure and progress our initial drug candidates through preclinical development,” he said in a statement.


GHRH antagonists are synthetic hormones intended to trigger a reduction in the hormones that fuel tumor growth. In preclinical models, Biscayne’s candidates have been “synergistic with chemotherapy” and have shown promising antitumor activity against several kinds of cancer, the company said in its funding announcement. Its drugs will first be applied to castrate-resistant prostate cancer, but may have potential in cancers of the breast, brain, lung, colon and skin.

Janssen Biotech’s Zytiga, Medivation/Astellas’ Xtandi and Dendreon’s Provenge are among the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs currently available for men with this kind of prostate cancer. Treatments and diagnostics for prostate cancer represent a growing market as more than 240,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and it’s seen development activity by a number of large drug companies.

Biscayne is also studying what it says could be a new regenerative approach to treating heart disease and working with its GHRH antagonists in preclinical models to repair damaged cardiac tissue.

[Photo from University of Miami]

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