Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRT) has licensed the rights to its DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK)* inhibitor programme to collaboration partner KuDOS Pharmaceuticals Ltd (KuDOS) – a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca. The deal will see significant extra investment into the Newcastle University programme for further development of drugs that inhibit DNA-PK.
DNA-PK plays a key role in the cellular repair-response to DNA damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. This response often means treatments are less effective, so finding drugs that inhibit DNA repair could lead to a better outcome for patients. Results from earlier work at Newcastle University, funded by the charity Cancer Research UK, and KuDOS show that in laboratory studies the use of DNA-PK inhibitors could increase the efficacy of current chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimes.
The research is a key component of Cancer Research UK’s Drug Discovery Programme at Newcastle University directed by Professors Roger Griffin and Herbie Newell. Professor Nicola Curtin and Dr Celine Cano will head-up this study in collaboration with KuDOS. Professor Curtin said: “This exciting project will enable us to continue our work with KuDOS to rapidly progress DNA-PK inhibitors from this programme into clinical development.”
As part of the two year collaboration agreement announced today, KuDOS has exercised an earlier option to a portfolio of intellectual property. The company will also receive an exclusive worldwide licence to develop the intellectual property arising from the continued programme. Both will be in return for upfront, milestone and royalty payments that will be shared between CRT and Newcastle University.
Dr Niall Martin, head of KuDOS, said: “This agreement builds on a very effective research collaboration we have had for a number of years with the Newcastle group, helping us identify and prepare exciting new drugs for clinical trials in the future. As part of this agreement, we will invest in three more full-time posts in Newcastle which will be dedicated to the project, and see further backing from Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University in addition to ongoing work in KuDOS and AstraZeneca – ensuring significant expansion of the research.”
Dr Phil L’Huillier, CRT’s director of business management, said: “It’s very exciting to combine efforts with commercial partners to progress early stage scientific discoveries such as DNA-PK, which have the potential to improve cancer treatments of the future. Today’s agreement provides a very strong commitment to the development of this extremely encouraging work.”
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*DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) is a member of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase related kinase (PIKK) family of protein serine and threonine kinases.
CRT was instrumental in the formation of KuDOS, now a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca. The company was created to develop Cancer Research UK funded science led by Professor Steve Jackson at the University of Cambridge. The company focuses its drug discovery on the DNA damage repair pathways and a key programme is the development of inhibitors of the enzyme PARP for the treatment for BRCA deficient breast and ovarian tumours. This is an example of the new generation of cancer treatments where molecularly targeted cancer drugs are administered to specific patient groups.