The project

The project

About renal (kidney) cancer

Huge unmet medical need

Cancer that has metastasized (spread) is very rarely cured and this is certainly true for renal cancer. Significant advances in the past decade have improved shorter term outcomes and preliminary data suggest longer survival than ever seen before. Complete response, read cure, is still very limited and the newer treatments are required to be taken for prolonged periods of time, possibly chronically.

Every year approximately 270 000 people are diagnosed with renal cancer worldwide and in Sweden, about 1 000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year.

Renal cancer is more common among men than women. 80 percent of the patients are between the age of 40 and 69 at diagnosis and the median age for diagnosis is 63 years.

If the disease is discovered before it has metastasized – it can be cured using surgery to remove the tumor including a part of, or the entire kidney. However, in one third of the patients, the disease has already spread outside the kidney at time for diagnosis and for these patients the prognosis is very poor with a median overall survival of up to two years dependent on prognostic factors. Only 20 percent of patients with metastasized renal cancers are alive after 5 years.

Renal cancer can be divided into different types. The therapy with orellanine is expected to have effect on the most common types of renal cancer; clear-cell carcinoma and papillary renal carcinoma. Approximately 90 percent of the patients are affected by these two types.

Orellanine: a potential breakthrough treatment of metastatic renal cancer

A completely new approach and mechanism to treating renal (kidney) cancer

Orellanine is a highly kidney selective natural toxin from certain mushrooms (Cortinarious species). The substance selectively affects and destroys a certain type of cells in the kidney, the tubular cells. The two most common types of renal cancer, clear cell renal cancer and papillary cancer, originate from these cells.

Pioneering preclinical research findings by the founders of Oncorena have shown that orellanine has a powerful killing effect on kidney cancer cells in different experimental set ups. Therefore it is believed that orellanine holds the potential promise to become a breakthrough and potentially curative treatment of human renal cancer.

A large number of humans have accidentally ingested orellanine containing mushrooms and apart from kidney damage there are no other known long-term consequences described. Current research supports the notion that orellanine is only taken up by renal tubular cells and renal cancer cells. Orellanine may have a very favorable adverse event profile with limited or no toxic effects on other cell types if this is confirmed in patients.

The therapeutic concept is to initially treat patients with metastasized renal cancer who are already on dialysis. Orellanine will be given as an intravenous infusion with the goal to provide potential long-term survival benefit.

Oncorena is planning to take orellanine into clinical trials in patients with metastatic renal cancer who are on chronic hemodialysis. The current plan is to conduct the clinical trials in clinics in Sweden enrolling patients from a wider geographical area.