The goal of the DISA program, which is in the preclinical phase, is to develop drugs that inhibit the TREX1 protein to enhance the effect of immuno-oncology therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer.
Cancer cells often have elevated levels of DNA fragments that have mistakenly ended up outside the cell nucleus. Because DNA fragments that are outside the cell nucleus can activate the immune system, cancer cells depend on these DNA fragments being cleaned up quickly – if they don’t, the body’s immune system will attack the cancer cells.
TREX1 is a protein that breaks down DNA fragments outside the cell nucleus and thus helps the cancer cells escape the immune system. Scientific studies have shown that there is a correlation between elevated levels of the TREX1 protein and poor prognosis for patients with certain types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer.