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UK-NZ collaboration to home in on new anti-cancer drug for leukaemia

by Cancer Research Technology (CRT) | News

22 April 2010

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Cancer Research Technology (CRT) – Cancer Research UK’s development and commercialisation arm has teamed up with The University of Auckland to advance the discovery of new molecular targeted compounds for the treatment of leukaemia.

Scientists based at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and CRT’s Discovery Laboratories in London and Cambridge will focus on developing a treatment that will target an enzyme that has been linked to the growth and development of leukaemia cells.

The target enzyme’s role in leukaemia was discovered by scientists at the University of Birmingham, funded by the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Collaborative effort between CRT’s Discovery Laboratories and Dr Christopher Bunce, whose group made the discovery, has led to the identification of a series of compounds that will form the basis of this UK/NZ collaboration.

Work at The University of Auckland is supported by a pre-seed investment from Auckland UniServices Ltd, the commercial research and knowledge transfer company of the University. CRT retains exclusive rights to commercialise the intellectual property arising from this deal.

Dr Phil L’Huillier, CRT’s director of business management said: “This exciting partnership exemplifies CRT’s expertise in ‘matchmaking’ promising areas of cancer research with expert drug discovery teams across the globe. By establishing partnerships with groups with complementary expertise, CRT aims to advance discovery of novel treatments for cancer.”

Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow which is characterised by uncontrolled growth of blood cells, usually white blood cells. The term leukaemia covers a spectrum of diseases that affects around 7,000 people in the UK and 600 people in New Zealand each year.

Professor Bill Denny, co-director of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, School of Medical Sciences said: “Growing evidence is showing that targeting this important enzyme has the potential to lead us to new treatments for leukaemia and potentially other cancers, so we are extremely excited to be taking the programme forward. The first step will be to generate improved compounds which could ultimately move into preclinical development.”

Dr Hamish Ryder, CRT’s director of drug discovery, said: “We’ve identified several promising series of compounds which, in combination with the strong therapeutic rationale established at the University of Birmingham, make for a very exciting project. We look forward to working with the drug discovery team at The University of Auckland to progress these compounds into a potential therapy for cancer.”


For media enquiries, please contact the Cancer Research Technology press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.