Models of Cancer Therapies Laboratory at the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO)

Dr. Laura Soucek

Dr. Laura Soucek is the principal investigator of the Models of Cancer Therapies Laboratory at the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Peptomyc S.L., Associate Professor at Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB) and ICREA Research Professor.

Her remarkable scientific career and research on Myc oncoprotein and its inactivation by inhibitory cell-penetrating miniproteins for cancer treatments have been recognized trough several prestigious national and international grants (FERO fellowship, ERC Consolidator grant, two ERC Proof of Concept grants and a Worldwide Cancer Research grant), making her a leading figure in that field.

In 1998, when she was still an undergraduate student, she designed Omomyc, which has been recently approved by the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS) to be tested in the first-in-human Phase I/II clinical trial. It currently emerges as the first disruptive Myc inhibitor preventing tumor growth in a safe way, only causing mild and reversible side effects.


Challenges and opportunities for a MYC inhibitor in cancer treatment

MYC is one of the most wanted targets for therapeutic intervention in cancer, having a key role in driving and maintaining most, if not all, human tumors. Despite this indisputable therapeutic opportunity, MYC has long been perceived as “undruggable” for its intrinsically disordered nature and fear of catastrophic side effects in normal tissues. Indeed, to date, there is still no MYC inhibitor in the clinic.

We previously designed a dominant negative form of MYC called Omomyc and used its conditional transgenic expression to inhibit MYC function both in vitro and in vivo, demonstrating a potent therapeutic impact in various mouse models of cancer, while causing only mild, well-tolerated and reversible side effects. Importantly, we recently showed that the purified Omomyc mini-protein displays unexpected cell-penetrating properties and can be delivered directly to tissues or by systemic administration to target tumors in different tissues and harboring various oncogenic mutation profiles. These features give the Omomyc mini-protein great potential for clinical development and application in multiple oncological indications. In fact, clinical trials Phase I/IIa have begun in 2021 and are currently ongoing to test Omomyc safety and efficacy in patients with solid tumors.