You are here

Our Approach

CRT-DL has pioneered an innovative alliance model which brings together the best minds from industry and academia to work around themed areas of cancer biology. This tested approach facilitates the low-risk exploration of novel broad areas of science with the potential to yield multiple commercially attractive projects. Such alliances combine the strengths of academic research and drug discovery with pharma clinical development capabilities, to maximise the potential for patient benefit.

We’ve already established major industry partnerships around themed areas of cancer biology, target class and platform technologies. These successes endorse the model and such partnerships are proving to be a hugely successful formula for collaborative drug development.

  • Cancer Metabolism

    Cancer metabolism research investigates how cancer cells use energy to survive and grow, particularly under conditions of nutrient and hypoxic (low oxygen) stress faced by rapidly growing tumours. Cell metabolism is often altered in cancer cells and new drugs that interfere with these alterations may render tumours vulnerable to destruction whilst sparing normal tissue.

    The three-year alliance, aiming to develop a drugs pipeline targeting cancer metabolism, has recently been expanded to run to early 2015 – adding two further years for the addition of new projects to the existing joint portfolio.

    The alliance team works at CRT’s Discovery Laboratories in London and Cambridge, and AstraZeneca’s cancer research centre at Alderley Park in the UK. AstraZeneca will take the most promising projects forward into pre-clinical and clinical drug development.

    Susan Galbraith, head of the AstraZeneca Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca, said: “Our continued alliance with CRT allows AstraZeneca to collaborate with leading scientists in the field of cancer metabolism and to further build on our efforts to identify new agents to target cancer cells’ dependence on altered metabolic pathways for their survival.”

    Read more

    Related links

  • Deubiquitinating Enzymes

    Protein ubiquitination is involved in many cellular processes and its regulation is controlled in part by deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs). Ubiquitin “tags” proteins for degradation, and DUBs remove this tag, providing a tool for manipulating protein levels (protein homeostasis) in a cell. Ubiquitin biology is therefore complex and important to a broad range of human diseases.

    FORMA and CRT-DL are leveraging their combined strengths to explore the protease enzymes that regulate ubiquitin-dependent pathways implicated in cancer. As part of this agreement, a collaborative consortium has been formed consisting of FORMA Therapeutics Inc. and up to ten FORMA ADDCos (Asset Discovery and Development Company) subsidiaries, CRT-DL and initially five Principal Investigators including:

    • Professors Michael Clague and Sylvie Urbé - University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
    • Dr. Benedikt Kessler – The University of Oxford, UK
    • Dr. David Komander – Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
    • Dr. Huib Ovaa – Chemical Biology Laboratory, Netherlands Cancer Institute, The Netherlands.

    These investigators will focus on furthering the consortium’s understanding of biological and structural insights of DUBs, and assist the discovery teams to ensure the most relevant screening technologies and secondary characterisation assays are deployed for selection of lead candidates. FORMA will provide research funding support and defined compensation payments for DUB-specific ADDCo programs that achieve specified milestones.

    “This initiative with CRT and Cancer Research UK has the potential to significantly accelerate our understanding of the relevant biological applications of DUBs, a key class of enzymes involved in regulating protein homeostasis." Steven Tregay, Ph.D., President and CEO, FORMA Therapeutics.

    Read more.

    Related links

  • DNA Damage Response

    DDR plays a key role in protecting cancer cells from the damaging effect of chemotherapy or radiotherapy – creating an in-built antidote to the toxic effects of standard cancer therapies. As the cancer cells that are best able to repair the DNA damage caused by the cancer treatments survive, they replicate, naturally selecting for the mutation with the enhanced repair capability – leading to recurrence and resistance to treatment.

    Cancer Research UK and CRT have created a world-class hub of expertise in DDR-related basic, translational, and clinical research that is leading the field; building the understanding that will hopefully enable ‘smarter’ use of this very interesting approach in the development of new treatment options.

    Building on a prior well-established working relationship, this multi-year agreement sets out the provision of new molecular targets, selected by CRT from Cancer Research UK’s portfolio of biological research in DDR. These targets will be validated to prove their therapeutic importance before progressing to the early stages of drug discovery in CRT’s Discovery Laboratories. CRT and Teva will then jointly undertake chemical lead generation activities.

    Dr. Michael Hayden, President, Teva Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer said: “Cancer Research UK, CRT, and their outstanding academic partners, are a driving force in the improved understanding of cancer and its treatment. This research collaboration will build on our understanding of how cells repair DNA damage, help us identify possible points of therapeutic intervention, and lead us onto a pathway to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients."

    Read more
     

    Related links

  • Antibodies

    BioInvent and scientists funded by Cancer Research UK at Queen Mary, under the leadership of Dr Thorsten Hagemann, Senior Cancer Research UK Fellow, will jointly be looking for new therapeutic targets by applying BioInvent’s F.I.R.S.T.™ technology, a functional approach to therapeutic antibody discovery. Dr Hagemann and his team will in return provide the collaboration with biological pathways for the development of new oncology therapies.

    The F.I.R.S.T.™ platform, through its ground-breaking proprietary biopanning technology, enables identification of functionally superior antibodies across multiple targets overexpressed by target cells. This combined target and drug discovery platform utilizes primary cancer patient cells, rather than recombinant proteins, as an antigen source allowing for discovery of novel specificities (receptors and epitopes) and target receptor functions.

    Dr Phil L’Huillier, CRT’s director of business development, said: “CRT has a strong interest in exploring the exciting area of the tumour microenvironment to create innovative new cancer therapies. Tumour associated macrophages are increasingly recognised as important players in cancer, and bringing together BioInvent’s unique antibody discovery platform with Dr Hagemann’s expertise in the macrophage field provides this collaboration with a unique blend of skills to develop multiple therapeutic projects with the potential to benefit cancer patients”.

    Read more.

    Related links

Cancer Metabolism Open

Cancer metabolism research investigates how cancer cells use energy to survive and grow, particularly under conditions of nutrient and hypoxic (low oxygen) stress faced by rapidly growing tumours. Cell metabolism is often altered in cancer cells and new drugs that interfere with these alterations may render tumours vulnerable to destruction whilst sparing normal tissue.

The three-year alliance, aiming to develop a drugs pipeline targeting cancer metabolism, has recently been expanded to run to early 2015 – adding two further years for the addition of new projects to the existing joint portfolio.

The alliance team works at CRT’s Discovery Laboratories in London and Cambridge, and AstraZeneca’s cancer research centre at Alderley Park in the UK. AstraZeneca will take the most promising projects forward into pre-clinical and clinical drug development.

Susan Galbraith, head of the AstraZeneca Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca, said: “Our continued alliance with CRT allows AstraZeneca to collaborate with leading scientists in the field of cancer metabolism and to further build on our efforts to identify new agents to target cancer cells’ dependence on altered metabolic pathways for their survival.”

Read more

Related links

Deubiquitinating Enzymes Open

Protein ubiquitination is involved in many cellular processes and its regulation is controlled in part by deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs). Ubiquitin “tags” proteins for degradation, and DUBs remove this tag, providing a tool for manipulating protein levels (protein homeostasis) in a cell. Ubiquitin biology is therefore complex and important to a broad range of human diseases.

FORMA and CRT-DL are leveraging their combined strengths to explore the protease enzymes that regulate ubiquitin-dependent pathways implicated in cancer. As part of this agreement, a collaborative consortium has been formed consisting of FORMA Therapeutics Inc. and up to ten FORMA ADDCos (Asset Discovery and Development Company) subsidiaries, CRT-DL and initially five Principal Investigators including:

  • Professors Michael Clague and Sylvie Urbé - University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  • Dr. Benedikt Kessler – The University of Oxford, UK
  • Dr. David Komander – Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
  • Dr. Huib Ovaa – Chemical Biology Laboratory, Netherlands Cancer Institute, The Netherlands.

These investigators will focus on furthering the consortium’s understanding of biological and structural insights of DUBs, and assist the discovery teams to ensure the most relevant screening technologies and secondary characterisation assays are deployed for selection of lead candidates. FORMA will provide research funding support and defined compensation payments for DUB-specific ADDCo programs that achieve specified milestones.

“This initiative with CRT and Cancer Research UK has the potential to significantly accelerate our understanding of the relevant biological applications of DUBs, a key class of enzymes involved in regulating protein homeostasis." Steven Tregay, Ph.D., President and CEO, FORMA Therapeutics.

Read more.

Related links

DNA Damage Response Open

DDR plays a key role in protecting cancer cells from the damaging effect of chemotherapy or radiotherapy – creating an in-built antidote to the toxic effects of standard cancer therapies. As the cancer cells that are best able to repair the DNA damage caused by the cancer treatments survive, they replicate, naturally selecting for the mutation with the enhanced repair capability – leading to recurrence and resistance to treatment.

Cancer Research UK and CRT have created a world-class hub of expertise in DDR-related basic, translational, and clinical research that is leading the field; building the understanding that will hopefully enable ‘smarter’ use of this very interesting approach in the development of new treatment options.

Building on a prior well-established working relationship, this multi-year agreement sets out the provision of new molecular targets, selected by CRT from Cancer Research UK’s portfolio of biological research in DDR. These targets will be validated to prove their therapeutic importance before progressing to the early stages of drug discovery in CRT’s Discovery Laboratories. CRT and Teva will then jointly undertake chemical lead generation activities.

Dr. Michael Hayden, President, Teva Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer said: “Cancer Research UK, CRT, and their outstanding academic partners, are a driving force in the improved understanding of cancer and its treatment. This research collaboration will build on our understanding of how cells repair DNA damage, help us identify possible points of therapeutic intervention, and lead us onto a pathway to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients."

Read more
 

Related links

Antibodies Open

BioInvent and scientists funded by Cancer Research UK at Queen Mary, under the leadership of Dr Thorsten Hagemann, Senior Cancer Research UK Fellow, will jointly be looking for new therapeutic targets by applying BioInvent’s F.I.R.S.T.™ technology, a functional approach to therapeutic antibody discovery. Dr Hagemann and his team will in return provide the collaboration with biological pathways for the development of new oncology therapies.

The F.I.R.S.T.™ platform, through its ground-breaking proprietary biopanning technology, enables identification of functionally superior antibodies across multiple targets overexpressed by target cells. This combined target and drug discovery platform utilizes primary cancer patient cells, rather than recombinant proteins, as an antigen source allowing for discovery of novel specificities (receptors and epitopes) and target receptor functions.

Dr Phil L’Huillier, CRT’s director of business development, said: “CRT has a strong interest in exploring the exciting area of the tumour microenvironment to create innovative new cancer therapies. Tumour associated macrophages are increasingly recognised as important players in cancer, and bringing together BioInvent’s unique antibody discovery platform with Dr Hagemann’s expertise in the macrophage field provides this collaboration with a unique blend of skills to develop multiple therapeutic projects with the potential to benefit cancer patients”.

Read more.

Related links