In our last newsletter, we identified “hot” areas of cancer science where ground breaking research was being undertaken by Cancer Research UK scientists and can lead novel drug discovery efforts in industry.
These themed areas of science, including tumour microenvironment, epigenetics, and DNA damage response, have ignited much interest, not only from our Industry partners but also the scientific press community.
A recent review in Nature Reviews Cancerhighlights the opportunities that cell senescence offers to the drug discovery community for the development of new ways to treat cancer. Senectus Therapeutics, a CRT initiative, is a ‘hand picked’ consortium of scientists focused on senescence. Senectus is uniquely positioned to explore a largely un-tapped area of potential novel therapeutic targets and modes of action through a validated proprietary screening assay platform. In May 2011, Senectus signed a non-exclusive deal with AstraZeneca to screen a well characterised sub-set of AstraZeneca’s compound library to identify those which potentially trigger senescence.
The announcement of our Cancer Stem Cell Consortium earlier this year, also generated much interest – The Guardian reported on dividing stem cells as being identified as a new target in the battle against cancer, whilst SCRIP focused on the cancer stem cell hypothesis and how our consortia model encourages industry to work closely with academic researchers as a way of defraying early stage risk.
Moving beyond our academic consortia model, our Drug Discovery Alliance program actively encourages industry to collaborate with CRT Discovery Laboratories on one of these themed areas of cancer science – right from the target validation and identification stage – with both parties working to their individual strengths of academic research and drug discovery and pharma clinical development.
CRT’s cancer metabolism program with AstraZeneca is one such example. Since the deal was signed in early 2010, 5 targets identified by CRT from Cancer Research UK’s expansive portfolio have entered the program for target validation.
Our DNA Damage Response consortia has advanced sufficiently to ‘Alliance Program’ status and we have begun to select new drug targets from CR-UK’s substantial portfolio of biological research to prove the importance of these proteins as potential therapeutic targets. The validated targets will go through the early stages of drug discovery at CRT’s Discovery Laboratories. We are currently looking for an industry partner or collaborator to progress this program.
Find out more about DNA Damage Response and our expertise in this field.