Company Overview

Our Commitment

Our mission is to realize the promise of precision medicines to help patients with cancer lead better, longer lives.

At Kura Oncology, we are committed to realizing the promise of precision medicines for the treatment of cancer.

The genomics revolution is transforming how we treat cancer. We now understand that a patient’s response to treatment depends in part on the cancer’s genetic makeup. This new era of precision medicine offers the potential for innovative treatments that are safer and more effective for patients with certain cancers.

We are advancing a pipeline of precision medicines for the treatment of solid tumors and blood cancers. Our small-molecule drug candidates target signaling pathways and other drivers of cancer where there is a strong scientific and clinical rationale to improve outcomes by identifying those patients most likely to benefit from treatment.

Our goal is to help patients with cancer lead better, longer lives.

The Story Behind Our Name

After our team sold Intellikine in 2012, Kevan Shokat came to me with an idea for a new company based on some pioneering work that he had done in his academic laboratory at UCSF on small molecule, covalent inhibitor approaches to drugging the KRAS G12C mutant oncoprotein.

Kevan suggested that we name our new company “Araxes Pharma.” The Araxes, or Aras, is a river flowing through Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran, draining the south side of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The Araxes River forms the international boundary between northwest Iran and Azerbaijan, a place particularly close to home for Kevan, as his father emigrated from Iran. But beyond his cultural origins, Kevan was drawn to “Araxes” because it translates to “A Ras,” or simply “Ras”: the molecular pathway that was the focus of his research at UCSF.

Along the way, we created an affiliated company, Wellspring Biosciences—representing the “headwaters” of innovation—which is currently a subsidiary of Araxes Pharma.

It was during our time at Araxes that we conceived of in-licensing the protein farnesyl transferase inhibitor tipifarnib from Janssen Pharmaceutica NV. At the time, tipifarnib was a Phase 2-ready program that had demonstrated encouraging clinical activity in certain cancer patient populations and that we believed could be further optimized using an appropriate patient selection strategy. Aided by our strong relationship with Janssen’s senior management, they agreed to in-license tipifarnib to us.

When it came time to name the new company that would develop tipifarnib, we already had Araxes and Wellspring. Building on the metaphor of likening a river to the RAS pathway, we wanted something that resembled a target “downstream” from KRAS, so to speak. After the Araxes River drains the south side of the Caucuses, it then joins the Kura River, which drains the north side of the same mountain range.

And thus, we chose the name “Kura” as a link to our past efforts to discover and develop drugs and a metaphor for the central signaling pathways that drive cancer.

— Troy Wilson, Ph.D., J.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Kura Oncology

Company Summary
Kura Oncology
Number of Employees
(858) 500-8800
12730 High Bluff Drive
#Suite 400
San Diego, CA