UK’s Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and Cancer Research Technology (CRT) have entered into a drug discovery collaboration with Denmark-based Nuevolution to identify novel lead candidates for treatments.
Under the collaboration, Nuevolution’s screening technology ‘Chemetics’ that tags compounds with unique strands of DNA such as barcodes will be used to evaluate around a billion prototype drug molecules for anti-cancer activity.
Researchers Researchers at both organisations will use Chemetics to screen libraries of DNA-tagged compounds to identify those that act on a key protein in the stress response pathway, which has an important role in cancer cell survival and resistance to cancer treatments.
The screening technology allows potent drug leads to be identified quickly and accurately from very large and complex compound mixtures.
The deal builds on an existing collaboration between CRT and Nuevolution, which is aimed at identifying drug leads that block the activity of several challenging cancer targets of therapeutic interest.
Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit director Paul Workman said the stress response pathway plays a major role in allowing cancer cells to survive and to develop drug resistance, so it is increasingly being seen as an source of future drug targets.
"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," Workman said.
Under the open-ended agreement, the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR and Nuevolution will collaborate to screen a key target within the stress response pathway.
The deal will see ICR researchers provide detailed insights and scientific expertise on the specific stress pathway target, as well as their experience in cancer drug discovery and development, while Nuevolution will be responsible for providing Chemetics technology, screening expertise and medicinal chemistry expertise to optimise drug candidates.
Under the agreement, the partners have an option to co-develop promising compounds arising from the partnership.
In addition, the deal allows for the screening of additional targets if the collaboration is successful.
Cancer Research Technology director of Business Management Phil L’Huillier said: "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."
Image: Nuevolution’s Chemetics screening technology will help evaluating about a billion prototype drug molecules for anti-cancer activity. Photo: courtesy of Cancer Research UK.