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New cancer drug to enter clinical trials

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by Cancer Research UK | News

14 November 2002

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Cancer Research UK scientists in Manchester, together with colleagues in Dublin, have developed a new drug designed to overcome drug-resistant cancer cells.

Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the charity’s technology transfer arm, today announces that it has reached an agreement with KuDOS Pharmaceuticals to license the drug worldwide.

KuDOS, which was itself founded by Cancer Research UK scientists, will now take the drug – called PaTrin-2 – into Phase 11 clinical trials for malignant melanoma and bowel cancer.

PaTrin-2 will be used in tandem with Temozolomide, which was also developed by the charity and works by causing lethal DNA damage. If cancer cells are able to repair damaged DNA they can often survive the effects of treatment, so scientists aimed to develop drugs to inhibit DNA repair, in order to make Temozolomide chemotherapy more effective.

Patrin-2 blocks the action of a molecule called Atase, which repairs specific kinds of DNA damage and is particularly important in resistance to anti-cancer treatments.

It was developed jointly by a Cancer Research UK funded team at the Paterson Institute and researchers at Trinity College Dublin, partly funded by Cancer Research UK and the Health Research Board, Ireland. The research was led by Dr Geoff Margison at the Paterson, and Professor Brian McMurry and Dr Stanley McElhinney at Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Margison says: “The more we learn about cancer, the more it becomes clear that cancer treatments of the future are going to have to be much more subtle than current therapies and tailored to particular molecular features of cancer cells.

“Stripping cancer’s remarkable ability to defend itself against DNA damage is one of the most exciting current approaches to cancer treatment and we’re very optimistic that the new drug will prove effective.

“This has been a tremendous joint effort. It has involved not only Sally Burtle’s team at Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office, the Clinical Trials Committee and Gavin Halberth at the Drug Formulation Unit, but also a number of clinicians, particularly Malcolm Ranson and Mark Middleton at the Christie Hospital and their colleagues at University College London.”

Professor Brian McMurry says: “Our discovery points to the importance of close international collaboration between chemists, biologists and clinicians, in the developing and testing of new drugs and their introduction into the treatment of cancer patients.”

Dr Barrie Ward, Chief Executive Officer of KuDOS, says: “The licensing of PaTrin-2 provides an exciting clinical phase product for KuDOS that fits with the DNA repair expertise of the company. We see the product having significant potential by enhancing the utility of alkylating agents, which are an important class of anti-cancer treatments.”

Mr Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of CRT, says: “PaTrin-2 is entering an exciting phase of its development in partnership with KuDOS. This license represents an excellent example of how Cancer Research UK science allied with its clinical development capability and CRT’s commercial management can be progressed for the benefit of the cancer patient.”