Since its inception in 1988, Genta, Inc. has been developing drugs for cancer. Genta's small molecule research program helped develop and market Ganite for hematological cancers. The oligonucleotide program helped discover Genasense as a potential therapy for various hematological and solid tumor cancers. In May 2004, the Company significantly reduced marketing support for Ganite injections due to a drastic fall in sales and focused all its resources on developing Genasense for the treatment of various cancers. The Company had been previously developing Genasense in collaboration with Sanofi-Aventis. However, this agreement ended on May 8, 2005. Genta is now looking for a new partner, with marketing capabilities in the field of oncology, to further develop and commercialize Genasense following its launch in the U.S. Genta signed an agreement with IDIS in March whereby IDIS will distribute Ganite and Genasense Injection, on a named patient/compassionate use basis in all territories except the U.S. Genta Inc. is based in Berkeley, NJ.
The Company is developing Genasense by using its Antisense Technology Platform. Antisense drugs are small, chemically modified strands of DNA. These drugs (oligonucleotides) are engineered in a sequence that is exactly opposite (hence, anti) to the coding (sense) sequence of mRNA. Upon binding with the mRNA, a duplex is formed. This duplex recruits an enzyme that degrades the mRNA portion of the duplex, thereby inhibiting the production of the intended protein. The antisense portion of the duplex is then released for further binding to a new mRNA. Genasense is designed to inhibit production of a protein necessary for cell growth in cancerous cells. By inhibiting this protein, Genasense aids in the toxic effects of chemotherapy, thus preventing the spread of cancer.