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Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Founded 📆
Founder 👔Jim Wells
Area served 🗺️
Key people
Daniel Swisher (2017; President & CEO)[1]
Number of employees
🌐 Website[Lua error in Module:WikidataIB at line 665: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). ] 
📇 Address
📞 telephone

Sunesis Pharmaceuticals is a publicly held, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of small molecular therapeutics.[2] The company was founded in 1998 by Jim Wells,[3] who left Genentech to pursue this new opportunity.[4][5] Sunesis filed and completed an IPO in 2005.[6][7] It is listed on NASDAQ as SNSS.[6][8]

Pharmaceutical development[edit]

Sunesis uses a "tethering" drug-development platform, focused on a dynamic combinatorial chemistry method applied to the mutation of proteins, allowing for targeted delivery of drugs to patient tissues.[3]

In 2013, Sunesis was in the process of evaluating vosaroxin via clinical trials.[9] By May 2017, the company had submitted and withdrawn a European Marketing Authorization Application for this drug in the treatment of relapsed or recurrent acute myeloid leukemia.[1] The pivotal trial for vosaroxin failed to show demonstrable efficacy, which was its undoing.[1] Both the FDA and EMA had granted vosaroxin orphan drug status.[1]

Following this setback, the company's lead compound became SNS-062, also known as vecabrutinib, a non-covalent inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase aimed at helping leukemia patients with a C481S mutation that makes them less responsive to Ibrutinib, a generic drug with general efficiency in around 90% of patients.[1][2][10] Vecabrutinib was developed by Biogen Idec and licensed by Sunesis in 2014.[1]

In addition to vecabrutinib, the company's kinase inhibitor portfolio also includes SNS-229 and SNS-510, candidate drugs in pre-clinical development.[1]


Sunesis had two collaborations with Biogen Idec: the first, established in late 2002, concerned co-development of treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases; the second, established in 2004, concerned codevelopment of kinase inhibitors for treatment of cancer.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Sunesis Withdraws European MAA for AML Drug Vosaroxin". Gen News Highlights. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. 2 May 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Oppenheimer Starts Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (SNSS) at Outperform". Street Insider. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lowe, Derek (19 September 2008). "Sunesis: No Substitutions Allowed?". Science Translational Medicine. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  4. Stockwell, Brent R. (2011). The Quest For The Cure: The Science and Stories Behind the Next Generation of Medicines. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-231-52552-7. OCLC 714301737 – via Internet Archive. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. "People In The News". GenomeWeb. New York. 11 December 2009. James Wells. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "IPOs Planned". Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, Wisconsin. 18 September 2005. p. C4. Retrieved 7 July 2018 – via Newspapers.com (Publisher Extra).
  7. "Initial Public Offerings". Weekly Business Review. Austin American-Statesman. Austin, Texas. Associated Press. 17 September 2005. p. 3. Retrieved 1 July 2018 – via Newspapers.com (Publisher Extra).
  8. "Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2005 Financial Results" (Press release). Sunesis Pharmaceuticals. 24 March 2006. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.[self-published source]
  9. "Story Stocks". Business. The News Journal. Wilmington, Delaware. 14 March 2013. p. A11, Col 1. Retrieved 1 July 2018 – via Newspapers.com (Publisher Extra).
  10. "Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2017 Financial Results and Recent Highlights". Seeking Alpha. GlobalNewsWire. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  11. "Biogen Idec, Sunesis to collaborate on drugs". Commerce. The Ukiah Daily Journal. Ukiah, California. Dow Jones / Associated Press. 8 September 2004. p. 3, Col. 1. Retrieved 1 July 2018 – via Newspapers.com.

External links[edit]

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