UK’s Cancer Research Technology (CRT) Pioneer Fund has announced an investment to develop a new class of drugs for blood cancer, which will target a protein called B-cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6).
Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, will use the fund to support their design of the drugs, to treat patients with Diffuse Large BCL6, a sub-type of non-hodgkin lymphoma.
CRT, the commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK, and the European Investment Fund (EIF) launched the fund in 2012 to bridge the funding gap between cancer drug discovery and early drug development.
Managed by Sixth Element Capital, the fund has received additional investment from investment company BACIT.
Institute of Cancer Research chief executive professor Paul Workman said: “Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma is a fast-growing and all too often deadly cancer.
“The support from the CRT Pioneer Fund will help us to make progress with this challenging project, with the aim of designing a whole new class of potential cancer drugs that target BCL6, a protein that is crucial for the cancer’s rapid progression.”
BCL6 plays a key role in maintaining levels of antibody-secreting B-cells in the blood and is an essential part of the body’s immune defences.
Research revealed that it is overactive in patients with Diffuse Large BCL6 and that this helps drive cancer growth.
Sixth Element Capital managing partner Ian Miscampbell said: “This investment will pave the way for potential new cancer drugs to be developed and taken into phase I clinical trials.”
Non-hodgkin lymphoma affects around 13,400 people in the UK and kills approximately 4,800 people every year.
Diffuse Large BCL6 accounts for about 40% of the cases.