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The Id genes
(Inhibitors of Differentiation, Id1-Id4) function at the translational level as
a key control of cell formation and differentiation. A critical function of the
Id genes is to promote the growth of normal cells and blood vessels early in
the developing embryo. This activity, called angiogenesis, is required for
normal fetal growth and survival. However, it has been clearly established that
the Id genes cease functioning prior to birth. The importance of the Id
proteins in cancer is that these genes are re-activated in the presence of a
tumor to cause the formation of new blood vessels that then provide the
nutrients for tumor growth and, eventually, metastasis to life-essential
organs. The goal of the Company has been to discover and develop drugs that
have anti-tumor actions by inhibiting the Id proteins. This has been
accomplished by the discovery of a small molecule (AGX51) that is a potent
inhibitor of Id proteins in animal models of tumor growth and metastasis.
A picture providing evidence of the profound effect of Id on
production of new blood vessels which is one of the key processes needed for
the growth and spread of cancer is provided below.