Cancer Research Technology (CRT) has announced an exclusive agreement with Cephalon, Inc., an international biotechnology company, to collaborate on the development of small molecule inhibitors. These molecules will target specific members of the ‘protein kinase C‘ superfamily of cell signalling proteins – which have been shown to be associated with the development of cancer.
The collaborative development programme will progress CRT’s promising lead compounds through to the selection of pre-clinical candidate molecules. Under the terms of the agreement CRT will be entitled to significant upfront and milestone payments, and upon achievement of specific product sales targets, a double-digit royalty rate.
These small molecule inhibitors will target specific variants – called isoforms – of the protein kinase C family. The isoforms at the centre of the collaboration have been strongly implicated in the development of cancer. Cancer Research UK-funded researchers Professors Peter Parker and Neil McDonald, working within its world class London Research Institute, significantly contributed to the structural biology of these targets and their validation as important players in cancer cell growth and spread.
New chemical compounds have been rapidly progressed towards lead candidates using CRT Discovery Laboratories drug screening, specialist cancer biology and medicinal chemistry expertise. The aim of this cross-discipline, two-centre collaboration, is to generate pre-clinical candidate molecules for development by Cephalon into new drug therapies for cancer patients.
Cephalon will contribute substantial resources which will boost existing investment by Cancer Research UK, and allow quicker translation of potential drugs that may benefit cancer patients. The work will take place at CRT’s Discovery Laboratories in London and Cephalon’s research and development facility in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Dr Keith Blundy, chief executive of Cancer Research Technology, said: “The agreement with Cephalon is a major milestone for CRT’s Discovery Laboratories being the first of its small molecule discovery programmes to partner with an international biopharmaceutical company. This unique collaboration will enable us to drive forward the development of potential innovative cancer medicines.”
Dr. John Mallamo, Vice President of Worldwide Chemical R&D at Cephalon said: “This collaboration between Cephalon and CRT creates a critical mass of biology and chemistry expertise, capable of quickly advancing the high quality lead series CRT has identified, and provides Cephalon with an expanded oncology discovery portfolio. Cephalon is very pleased to be able to join forces with CRT to discover and develop first-in-class therapies in our fight against cancer. ”
About Protein Kinase C (PKC)
PKC is a superfamily of proteins that play a pivotal role in cell signalling – and control of the cells most important processes including growth and division. PKC controls the activity of other important proteins by switching them on or off – they do this by adding phosphate groups at strategic points on target proteins. There are a number of variations between this family of proteins – called isoforms.
About the Principal Scientists
Peter Parker is a Principal Scientist at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute, and also Professor of Cancer Studies at King’s College London. Neil McDonald is a Principal Scientist at the London Research Institute and also Professor of Crystallography at Birkbeck college.