UK’s Cancer Research Technology (CRT) Pioneer Fund has invested in research to develop new drugs known as heat-shock factor 1 (HSF1) pathway inhibitors, which would be able to block a protective mechanism used by cancer cells.
UK-funded scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research will be able to use the investment to design and develop the drugs.
The investment will also fund a Phase I clinical trial of the new approach to treatment.
The HSF1 pathway is usually activated only when cells are stressed, and the pathway sends a message to the nucleus to activate stress response genes for protecting healthy cells and tissues.
However, in the case of cancer patients, the cells are under continuous stress and rely on the pathway to survive.
According to the scientists, the HSF1 pathway inhibitors will be able to block this pathway, thereby preventing cancer cells from growing and help shrink tumours.
The Institute of Cancer Research London chief executive and president, and HSF1 Research Programme original leader Paul Workman said: "Blocking heat shock factor 1 disrupts a network of molecular signals that help cancer cells to survive, grow and spread, and has the potential to arrest cancer growth and shrink tumours.
"This new investment is an important milestone for our programme to develop drugs that could treat cancer in a completely new way by blocking heat shock factor 1, and will allow us to progress a drug into the first clinical trial in patients."
The investment is the sixth made by the CRT Pioneer Fund and was introduced by CRT, the commercialisation division of Cancer Research UK, and the European Investment Fund (EIF) in 2012.
Image: Electron microscopic image of a single human lymphocyte. Photo: courtesy of Dr. Triche National Cancer Institute.