European institutes launch cancer drug collaboration

Organizations to search for compounds that target the stress response pathway

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark—A drug discovery collaboration was announced this week between the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), Nuevolution A/S and Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, for the identification of novel lead candidates for cancer treatment. The agreement builds on an existing collaboration between CRT and Nuevolution aimed at identifying drug leads capable of blocking the activity of several cancer targets of interest.
“Our role is to build global industry-academic partnerships to bring the best technologies and expertise together to develop new treatments for cancer patients – ultimately saving more lives from the disease,” Dr. Phil L’Huillier, director of business management at CRT, said in a press release. “This exciting international collaboration combines global expertise and resources to exploit the untapped biology of the stress response pathway. This work will accelerate the identification of potential new cancer drugs though an innovative approach to scan for DNA ‘barcode’ tags on promising new molecules – extending the existing relationship between Nuevolution and CRT.”
Per the terms of the agreement, the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR and Nuevolution will work together to screen a key target within the stress response pathway, with researchers from the former providing insight and expertise on the specific stress pathway target as well as experience in cancer drug discovery and development. The agreement is open-ended, allowing for the screening of additional targets, and includes an option to co-develop compounds that result from the collaboration. No financial terms were disclosed.
“The stress response pathway plays a key role in allowing cancer cells to survive and to develop drug resistance – so it is increasingly being seen as an exciting source of future drug targets. But for some of these targets it is technically very challenging to identify prototype small molecule drugs. The new collaboration between the ICR, Cancer Research Technology and Nuevolution will allow us to screen very rapidly and efficiently for compounds that are able to bind to a key component of the stress response pathway that we have identified as especially important, and could help us to identify new drug candidates far more quickly than would otherwise be the case. By working in partnership, we can accelerate the potential for patient benefit,” said Prof. Paul Workman, deputy chief executive of the ICR and director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit.
Nuevolution will make available its proprietary Chemetics technology for use in the collaboration, as well as its expertise in screening and medicinal chemistry. Researchers will use the Chemetics technology to screen libraries containing millions of DNA-tagged compounds to identify the compounds that act on a key protein in the stress response pathway, enabling for the rapid identification of potent drug leads.
“We are delighted to enter this project and to expand our present collaborations with ICR and CRT,” Thomas Franch, chief scientific officer at Nuevolution, commented in a statement. “The project will address a highly challenging target for which small-molecule compounds is not easily identified using conventional screening methods. We hope to identify lead compounds using the Chemetics technology and look forward to moving this exciting project forward together with the world-leading team at ICR.”
SOURCE: Nuevolution press release

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