Teva in Cancer Research UK tie-up
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries have joined forces to look at how drugs might be developed which can stop cancer cells healing themselves.
In what is described as a ‘multi-year’ agreement CRT, which is the charity Cancer Research UK’s technology development arm, and Teva will aim to come up with first-in-class therapies which modulate DNA damage and repair response (DDR) processes.
CRT will receive research funding, milestone payments and royalties on any successful projects as they come through Teva’s pipeline.
DDR is crucial in protecting cancer cells from the ravages of chemotherapy, acting as an in-built antidote: and in a vicious circle, cancer cells which are able to make good the damage caused by oncology treatments survive and replicate, which leads to resistance to treatment and recurrence of tumours.
It is a similar area of research to the one that AstraZeneca made moves in this month, paying $50 million for a licensing deal for one of Merck’s investigational drugs.
MK-1775 is a Phase IIa oral small molecule inhibitor of WEE1 kinase, which helps regulate the way cells divide: the compound aims to ensure tumour cells divide but that normal DNA repairs do not then begin, which means the tumour cell will die.
“Cancer Research UK scientists are carrying out exciting research in the area of DNA damage repair,” explained Hamish Ryder, director of drug discovery at CRT’s Discovery Laboratories.
“Some cancer therapies work by targeting DNA damage response pathways in cancer cells, and finding new ways to block repair in tumours can boost the effectiveness of existing therapies,” he added.
The charity has built up a wealth of DDR research material at its five UK facilities: Gray Institute in Oxford, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, London Research Institute, Manchester’s Paterson Institute and the Beatson Institute in Glasgow.
Teva will use its R&D capabilities to work on new molecular targets which CRT will pick from the charity’s portfolio – the targets will then be validated before they move to early-stage drug discovery in CRT’s laboratories, after which CRT and Teva will handle chemical lead generation work together.
“For cancer patients, it is important that we maintain the momentum of progress that has been made in oncology in recent years,” said Michael Hayden, Teva’s chief scientific officer.
“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,” he concluded.
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