Sygnature Discovery, the UK’s largest independent drug discovery expert and research partner, has been appointed by UCL to lead an optimisation project targeting pancreatic cancer.
The project is based upon research done by Professor Stephen Neidle’s group in the UCL School of Pharmacy, in collaboration with the UCL Drug Discovery Group, led by Dr Richard Angell. It is funded by a £1 million investment from the £50m UCL Technology Fund, managed by Albion Capital in collaboration with UCL Business.
Professor Neidle is a pioneer in the design of drugs which effectively ‘switch off’ the functioning of cancer-related genes. His group has developed a new drug which is designed to target quadruplex structures in DNA. Such quadruplex structures are more prevalent in certain cancers than in normal cells, providing opportunity for targeted killing of these cancer cells. One type of cancer cell shown to be affected by this type of molecular approach is pancreatic cancer.
Sygnature will apply its expertise in medicinal chemistry, parallel synthesis, cell imaging and biophysics to optimise the lead molecules identified by Prof. Neidle. The aim of this optimisation process is to improve the therapeutic properties of the molecules.
Dr John Unitt, Sygnature’s Director of Bioscience says: “We are excited to be chosen to partner with UCL on this oncology project. As a research organisation we are always looking to apply our oncology expertise to exciting new targets like Professor Neidle’s G-Quadruplex project.
“Despite the availability of many new cancer therapies, pancreatic cancer still has a very poor outcome for patients and remains one of the most significant unmet needs in oncology. We believe that ultimately this novel cancer therapy could offer hope to patients whose prognosis today remains very poor.”