It has been a longstanding challenge to effectively treat solid tumors. No effective treatment is available for a large number of patients with solid tumors. Key challenges include tumor resistance to drugs, inaccessibility of cells within a tumor to certain drugs, and the lack of tumor specificity of many drugs. These challenges that many existing treatment strategies cannot overcome demand new strategies.
An "Achilles heel" of tumors is the tumor blood vessel, which tumors depend on for survival and metastasis. There are major advantages of targeting tumor blood vessels in drug development and these advantages can help to overcome the traditional challenges of treating solid tumors. First, tumor blood vessels are not tumor cells and should be less susceptible to mutation and the acquisition of drug resistance. Second, they are easily accessible by drugs. Third, tumor blood vessels differ drastically from blood vessels of healthy organs in formation, structure and gene expression. Atengen aims to develop a novel strategy to treat solid tumors by precision killing of tumor blood vessels to kill tumors.
Atengen’s novel therapeutic target is a receptor that is specifically expressed in tumor blood vessels of most types of solid tumors but not in the blood vessels of healthy organs. We have developed innovative technologies to identify both small molecule and antibody drug candidates that can effectively kill tumors by killing existing tumor blood vessels through this receptor. In targeting the tumor blood supply rather than the tumor cells themselves, this new strategy can kill solid tumors in a tissue agnostic manner, while maintaining a high degree of specificity. This groundbreaking approach has the potential to overcome the limitations of existing strategies and to revolutionize the treatment of solid tumors.

A new strategy to treat solid tumors

Atengen is developing drugs that specifically target the tumor blood vessels of most solid tumors. The long-term goal is to develop a new generation of therapeutics to treat solid tumors.

Atengen Blood Vessel Killing

Introduction Video

Atengen Pipeline


Atengen Scientific Advisory Board


David Scheinberg, MD, PhD

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Dr. Scheinberg is Chairman of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Deputy Director of Sloan Kettering Institute, for Therapeutic Discovery. He is also Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medicine. He has developed several anti-cancer therapeutic agents that have entered human trials. Dr. Scheinberg is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians. Dr. Scheinberg received the Emil J. Freireich Award from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and in 2013 Nature Biotechnology recognized him as one of the world’s top 20 Translational Scientists.


Steven McKnight, PhD

UT Southwestern

Dr. McKnight is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Dr. McKnight has made many important contributions to biomedical research and has received numerous awards including the Eli Lilly Award, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology, and the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine and was the past President of American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. McKnight co-founded Tularik (acquired by Amgen for $1.3 billion) and Peloton Therapeutics (acquired by Merck for $2.2 billion). 


Ernest Wright, PhD, FRS


Dr. Wright is a Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Sherman Mellinkoff Distinguished Chair in Medicine at UCLA. His fundamental discoveries became part of the foundation for the pharmaceutical industry's success in developing a new type of drugs to treat diabetes. He has also developed novel chemical probes to detect cancer. Dr. Wright is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the German Academy of Science, and the Royal Society (U.K.). He has served on many advisory boards, including the Scientific Advisory Board of Boehringer Ingelheim.


Suzanne Topalian, MD

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Topalian is a physician-scientist and the Bloomberg-Kimmel Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Topalian has conducted landmark clinical trials in oncology, including the first trial to show the efficacy of an anti-PD1 drug. In 2014, she was named one of world’s top ten scientist by the journal Nature. Dr. Topalian is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. She received the Karnofsky Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medicine.


Jeremy Nathans, MD, PhD

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 

Dr. Nathans is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Nathans has made seminal discoveries in vision and vision diseases, including retinal vascular diseases. Dr. Nathans has received numerous awards including the Champalimaud Award and the Edward Scolnick Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, and he has served on the scientific advisory board of Merck Research Laboratories.


Yihai Cao, MD, PhD

Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Cao is a Distinguished Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Cao is a leading expert on tumor angiogenesis and endogenous inhibitors of angiogenesis, and his team has described mechanisms of pathogenic angiogenesis in multiple diseases. He is a member of the Academy of Europe, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the National Academy of Inventors. He has received the Fernström Research Prize, the Fulbright award and the Axel Hirsch Prize in Medicine.   


Napoleone Ferrara, MD


Dr. Ferrara is a Distinguished Professor at the University of California at San Diego. Working at Genentech, Dr. Ferrara discovered Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). This discovery led to the development of the blockbuster drugs Avastin and Lucentis. Avastin has been approved by the FDA in multiple cancer types and Lucentis has been approved for neovascular age-related macular degeneration and other ocular vascular disorders. Dr. Ferrara is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, and he is a recipient the Lasker Prize and the Breakthrough Prize.

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