International deal to screen potential cancer drugs using DNA 'barcodes'
An innovative screening technology that tags compounds with unique strands of DNA – like barcodes – will be used to assess up to a billion prototype drug molecules for anti-cancer activity, under a collaboration announced today (Wednesday) between The Institute of Cancer Research, London, Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and Denmark-based drug discovery company Nuevolution A/S.
Researchers will use Nuevolution’s novel screening technology, 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 collaboration will give scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) access to data from screens of Nuevolution’s proprietary library of small-molecule compounds, each of which is tagged with a unique strand of DNA – marking it like a barcode. Up to a billion compounds will be assessed, with the successful hit compounds identifiable through their DNA tag. This state-of the-art screening technology allows potent drug leads to be identified quickly, accurately and from very large and complex compound mixtures.
The three-way deal between the ICR, Nuevolution and CRT, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, builds on a previous collaboration between CRT and Nuevolution, which aimed to identify drug leads that block the activity of several challenging cancer targets of therapeutic interest.
Under the new deal the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR and Nuevolution will collaborate to screen a key target within the stress response pathway using Nuevolution’s Chemetics technology. Researchers from the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR will provide detailed insights and scientific expertise on the specific stress pathway target as well as their extensive experience in cancer drug discovery and development. In addition, they will use their cancer biology and molecular pharmacology expertise to validate prototype drug molecules identified by the Chemetics screening.
The parties have an option to co-develop promising compounds arising from this collaboration. The agreement is open-ended and allows for the screening of additional targets if the collaboration is successful.
Professor Paul Workman, deputy chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit said: “The stress response pathway plays a key role in allowing cancer cells to survive and to develop drug resistance – so it is increasingly being seen as an exciting source of future drug targets.
“But for some of these targets it is technically very challenging to identify prototype small molecule drugs. 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. By working in partnership we can accelerate the potential for patient benefit.”
Thomas Franch, CSO, Nuevolution A/S said: “We are delighted to enter this project and to expand our present collaborations with ICR and CRT. The project will address a highly challenging target for which small molecule compounds is not easily identified using conventional screening methods. We hope to identify lead compounds using the Chemetics® technology and look forward to moving this exciting project forward together with the world-leading team at ICR”.
Dr Phil L’Huillier, Cancer Research Technology’s director of business management, said: “Our role is to build global industry-academic partnerships to bring the best technologies and expertise together to develop new treatments for cancer patients – ultimately saving more lives from the disease. This exciting international collaboration combines global expertise and resources to exploit the untapped biology of the stress response pathway.
“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.”
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Notes to editors
Nuevolution is a leading small molecule lead discovery company founded in 2001 and based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The company has developed Chemetics®, a unique, patent protected hybrid of proven wet chemistry and molecular biology, which represents the ultimate fragment, based drug discovery technology. Chemetics® enables rapid oligonucleotide e.g. DNA encoded synthesis of up to billions of chemically diverse drug-like small molecule compounds and the efficient screening of these, facilitating the identification of potent drug leads at unprecedented speed and scale.
Nuevolution partners its technology with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Nuevolution has entered into collaboration and licensing agreements with Merck & Co., Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim and Cancer Research Technology, joint venture epigenetics consortium (Nuevolution, EpiTherapeutics, ExpreS2ion Biotechnologies, BRIC) and a GPCR scientific joint venture consortium (Nuevolution, Duke University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals).
Nuevolution has demonstrated the power of Chemetics® by identification of highly potent and drug like novel ligands with the potential to address major unmet medical needs across a range of therapeutic areas and target classes. Nuevolutions internal programs focuses on therapeutically important targets within inflammation and oncology.
Nuevolution is a privately owned company by key Scandinavian investors, including SEB Venture Capital, Sunstone Capital, Industrifonden, SLS Invest, Novo Ventures and Innoventus Life Sciences.
Chemetics® is a patented technology and a registered trademark of Nuevolution.
For further information visit www.nuevolution.com
The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutes.
Scientists and clinicians at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) are working every day to make a real impact on cancer patients’ lives. Through its unique partnership with The Royal Marsden Hospital and ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach, the ICR is able to create and deliver results in a way that other institutions cannot. Together the two organisations are rated in the top four cancer centres globally.
The ICR has an outstanding record of achievement dating back more than 100 years. It provided the first convincing evidence that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer, laying the foundation for the now universally accepted idea that cancer is a genetic disease. Today it leads the world at isolating cancer-related genes and discovering new targeted drugs for personalised cancer treatment.
As a college of the University of London, the ICR provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction. It has charitable status and relies on support from partner organisations, charities and the general public.
The ICR’s mission is to make the discoveries that defeat cancer. For more information visit www.icr.ac.uk
About Cancer Research Technology
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, the world's leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Further information about CRT can be found at www.cancertechnology.com
About Cancer Research UK
- Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
- The charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
- Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
- Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
- Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
- Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1861 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook