Iterion Therapeutics Announces First Patient Dosed in Phase 1b/2a Clinical Trial of Tegavivint in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma Who Have Failed One or More Systemic Treatments

HOUSTON, Feb. 20, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Iterion Therapeutics, an oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company developing small molecule inhibitors of Transducin beta-like protein 1 (TBL1), a downstream target in the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway, announced today it is actively enrolling a Phase 1b/2a clinical trial of its lead molecule, tegavivint, in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that have failed at least one line of systemic therapy.
Activation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is a hallmark of several forms of cancer, including HCC, in which approximately half of patients have tumors with Wnt-activating mutations. Unfortunately, key members of this pathway (including beta-catenin) have either been resistant to conventional drug development or plagued with off-target toxicities. Extensive pre-clinical study results across multiple tumor types suggest that TBL1 is a downstream target that is necessary for Wnt/beta-catenin-activated oncogenesis. TBL1 binds nuclear beta-catenin thus stabilizing the transcription complex necessary to turn on cancer-causing genes. Tegavivint's direct binding to TBL1 displaces beta-catenin and disrupts this complex, allowing the degradation of free nuclear beta-catenin and preventing downstream oncogenic gene transcription.
"By targeting TBL1, tegavivint promotes potent inhibition of nuclear beta-catenin oncogenic activity without inducing toxicities observed for other drugs that are upstream in the Wnt-pathway" stated Rahul Aras, Ph.D., President & CEO for Iterion Therapeutics. "HCC is a devastating cancer with a high prevalence of Wnt-activated tumors, and we are committed to developing tegavivint for this patient population that otherwise has very few therapeutic options".
HCC is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death globally. In 2023, the National Cancer Institute (NCI)Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated 41,210 new HCC cases diagnosed in the US, with 29,380 deaths. The overall prognosis is poor, with a 5-year survival rate of 21.6%. Wnt-activation plays multiple roles in the pathogenesis of HCC by initiating tumorigenesis, promoting metastasis, and enhancing an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Patients with elevated nuclear beta-catenin and TBL1 demonstrate particularly poor outcomes. Despite this, there are no FDA-approved therapies targeting this pathway.
"There is a desperate need for novel targeted therapies to address the large unmet clinical need in HCC" expressed Casey Cunningham, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Iterion Therapeutics. "Tegavivint has demonstrated excellent tolerability and has the potential to address a large portion of this population by directly inhibiting beta-catenin's oncogenic activity".
The ongoing clinical trial will enroll approximately 35 patients in dose escalation and optimization cohorts of patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic HCC that have failed at least one line of systemic treatment. The study will evaluate safety and clinical efficacy in addition to pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic markers to determine a Recommended Phase 2 Dose (RP2D) in HCC. Tegavivint has demonstrated safety, clinical and pharmacodynamic activity in a Phase 1 clinical study of patients with desmoid tumors.
For more information about this Phase 1b/2a clinical trial of tegavivint in patients with advanced HCC, please visit using the identifier NCT05797805.
Iterion Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel cancer therapeutics. The company's lead product, tegavivint, is a potent and selective small molecule that binds to Transducin beta-like protein 1 (TBL1), a newly characterized target in the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway. TBL1 binds to nuclear beta-catenin, forming an active transcription complex that prevents nuclear degradation of beta-catenin and activates genes necessary for the Wnt/beta-catenin oncogenic activity. Tegavivint binds to TBL1 and disrupts the interaction between beta-catenin and TBL1, thus promoting the degradation of nuclear beta-catenin and preventing the transcription of Wnt/beta-catenin targeted oncogenes. Iterion is currently advancing multiple clinical programs investigating tegavivint in cancer indications where nuclear beta-catenin overexpression is a known factor. These include Iterion-sponsored programs in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), as well as investigator-sponsored programs in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCL), and pediatric solid tumors. Iterion is the recipient of combined a $18.9 million in Product Development Awards from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). For more information on Iterion, please visit