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Karus Therapeutics Ltd

Karus is an R&D-focused pharmaceutical company that is developing new small-molecule drugs for the treatment of chronic human diseases such as cancer and inflammation. The company’s initial focus is the development of a brand new class of histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDI) that have gold-standard potency and the potential to become best-in-class treatments for a wide range of cancers, plus inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Karus has established a strong, experienced and multi-disciplinary commercial and scientific team that has helped the company make fast and efficient progress in its development programs. Karus began operations in 2006, the result of a four-year collaboration between the University of Southampton and Cancer Research UK’s group at Southampton General Hospital. This multi-disciplinary collaboration has created an extensive portfolio of new therapeutics of which Karus’s HDI program is the first to enter development.

To date, Karus has identified development candidates in two therapeutic HDI programs (cancer and psoriasis). The company has also established an HDI program in rheumatoid arthritis and is establishing a platform of therapeutics based on non-HDAC targets with application in cancer and inflammation.

These programs are built upon Karus’s medicinal chemistry expertise that has allowed the company to create optimized synthetic HDIs with best-in-class potency and optimal drug-like properties. Karus anticipates significant value creating events over the next few years as it moves its first three programs into the clinic for the treatment of cancer, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

HDACs are important drug targets that have attracted considerable pharmaceutical industry attention: one HDAC inhibitor has been approved (Vorinostat¨) for the treatment of T-cell lymphoma and a handful are in advanced clinical testing for the treatment of various cancers. HDACs are enzymes that regulate gene activation and expression and Karus’s OS-HDI regulate the expression of anti-proliferative proteins such as p21 that are ‘silenced’ in tumor cells.

Karus believes that its HDI are the most potent HDAC inhibitors known which, combined with their unique pharmacodynamics and exquisite target selectivity, are expected to create best-in-class drugs for the treatment of a wide range of tumours and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

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