Reza Sheikhnejad, PhD.
A biochemist, molecular biologist, inventor, graduated from The University of Georgia (Athens, GA, USA). He began working in Michigan Cancer Foundation (Karmanos Cancer Institute, KCI) where he developed a novel technology later named DNAi (Nucleic acid-based interfering). He owns more than 20 related international Patents. The surprising, compelling and amazing clinical results of one of his oligonucleotide drug is about to change the course of cancer therapy forever.
Dr. Sheikhnejad is currently the director of cancer research at Tofigh Daru working to develop more non-toxic, safe and targeted drugs to treat cancer.
The cancer research program at Tofigh Daru has several research laboratories for drug development, drug delivery systems, cell culture and molecular diagnostic.
Drug development start with the design of oligonucleotide molecules which are then synthesized using Polygen DNA synthesizer (Germany).
Our cell culture facility includes 3 clean rooms class, D, C and B to avoid contamination. The cell bank contains a dozen of cancer cell lines for testing the biological activities of anti-cancer compound.
The gene-targeted drugs, develop in this company, will be prescribed based on patient’s gene expression profile. This is called personalized medicine because the cancer patients each have a different gene expression profile even if they suffer from the same cancer. Gene expression profiling in this laboratory is performed by our colleagues who have degree in molecular genetics. Since 2009 we have examined more than one hundred tumor tissues removed by surgery and/or bronchoscopy from lung cancer patients. A panel of 12 cancer related genes was used to determine those overexpressed in a particular patient. The molecular testing is done by Real-Time PCR and it is now a routine procedure in our laboratory.
To confirm that the overexpression of bcl-2 oncogene is due to its chromosomal translocation, we attempt to develop a test to determine this cancer causing event in pancreatic tumor tissues. More than 50 paraffin embedded pancreatic tumor tissues are received from Imam Khomeini’s Hospital to start this project.
The development of an early diagnostic kit is another area that our research is focused on. The detection of DNA methylation at specific sites of the promoter region of some tumor suppressor genes may be used as molecular markers for early cancer diagnosis. Using bisulfide detection test, we have been able to identify 3 tumor suppressor genes to be hypermethylated in lung cancer specimen. We are now in the process of detecting the methylation these genes in the DNA of lung cancer patient’s serum.
Tofigh Daru is determined to be the leading company in producing liposomal oligonucleotides drugs to treat cancer as well as other genetic diseases. The oligotherapy includes drugs such as antisense, aptomers, RNAi, siRNAs, miRNAs as well as DNAi. The Nano-liposomal delivery of these drugs is an important part of our pharmaceutical platform in near future.
Synthetic Peptide Antagonists, our new gene-targeted cancer drugs
is a general name for all anti-cancer drugs developed by Dr. Reza Sheikhnejad. These drugs are highly specific and target only cancer cells with mutated and/or activated oncogenes. The drugs do not harm healthy cells therefore little or no side effects are anticipated. This novel technology presents peptide-based drugs to treat all human cancers as well as other genetic diseases.
KRAS oncogene may be the most important and elusive pharmaceutical target among all oncogenes. Many pharmaceutical companies attempted to target RAS but have failed to do so. However the NCI (National Cancer Institute in USA) is determined to aggressively attack KRAS with $250M megaproject to develop an inhibitor for mutated KRAS oncogene.
Our first cyclopeptide antagonist has shown great specificity for cancers with mutated KRAS in vitro with little or no cytotoxicity. The investigation is underway in Tofigh Daru to determine in vivo efficacy and toxicity of this novel drug and take it to clinic.