Apr 19, 2023
Dr. Joshua Schiffman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Peel Therapeutics and has taken the understanding of the natural resistance to cancer by elephants to develop PEEL-224 to attack tumors. Using a plant toxin and modifying existing approaches, Peel has created a drug that increases the amount of the drug that gets to the cancer cells with reduced side effects.
Joshua explains, "Peel is actually the Hebrew word for elephant. So that's why we call ourselves Peel Therapeutics. My Co-Founder, Dr. Avi Schroeder, is from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Israel. While we were working on the elephant drug, we realized, you know what, it's more than just elephants. Looking around nature, we understand that evolution has had hundreds of millions of years to perfect, in some cases, perfect cancer-fighting protein or peptide or anti-inflammatory molecule. Our lead drug, which we call PEEL-224, actually works really well targeting the DNA repair mechanism in cancer cells."
"This DNA repair mechanism is called topoisomerase 1. And by blocking it, we're able to actually ensure that cancer cells essentially self-destruct. At Peel, we say that we like to engineer nature better than evolution intended. So, in the case of PEEL-224, we've taken this plant toxin, it's called camptothecin. It comes from an ancient Chinese tree called the Happy Tree, and we've modified it so that it can avoid chemoresistance. So, in other words, you give this drug to the patient, which goes to the tumor, and the tumor cell can't spit it out anymore. And we're seeing remarkable early results in mice and now have begun a clinical trial."
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