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Volastra Therapeutics Inks Two New Deals to ID Biomarkers for KIF18A Inhibitor Patient Selection

NEW YORK – Volastra Therapeutics and Function Oncology on Tuesday announced a partnership focused on identifying predictive biomarkers for Volastra's KIF18A inhibitors.

For its part of the partnership, San Diego-based Function will bring its CRISPR-enabled personalized functional genomics technology to help guide patient selection for Volastra's KIF18A inhibitor trials. Volastra also said on Tuesday that it has partnered with Tailor Bio, a Cambridge, United Kingdom-based firm developing a platform to help identify new therapeutic targets, better understand CIN, and improve patient selection for CIN-targeting agents.

New York City-based Volastra is developing these agents for patients whose tumors harbor chromosomal instability (CIN), which is associated with advanced, often treatment-resistant disease. In March 2023, Volastra licensed a KIF18A inhibitor dubbed sovilnesib from Amgen. The firm is currently studying that drug in a Phase I clinical trial for certain patients with ovarian cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, and certain solid tumors harboring TP53 mutations. The firm also has an agent called VLS-1488 that it is evaluating in a Phase I clinical trial for patients with cancers known to have high levels of CIN.

Through the new partnership, Volastra and Function plan to move beyond traditional gene sequencing by measuring gene function as a way to predict which patients will benefit most from the KIF18A inhibitors. 

"This collaboration serves as validation of our CRISPR-based approach to deciphering patient-specific drug target vulnerabilities in solid tumors," Function CEO and Cofounder Srinath Sampath said in a statement.

Volastra's partnership with Function builds on an existing partnership with Microsoft, inked in 2020, through which Volastra and Microsoft have been developing image-based artificial intelligence models to measure CIN levels in patient samples.