The Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund LP (CPF) recently announced it will further develop a promising class of cancer drugs called RET inhibitors, through a collaboration with the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute Drug Discovery Unit.
A potential drug candidate identified through the collaboration has entered preclinical studies, the stage necessary to enable an investigational new drug (IND) application. These studies ensure the drug is safe to be given to patients. If the studies are successful the experimental drug will be funded through early clinical trials.
Ian Miscampbell, managing partner of Sixth Element Capital which manages the CPF, said: “We’re delighted to announce this significant project milestone. And the further investment we’ve made will pave the way for a potential new cancer drug to be taken into phase I clinical trials. If the first studies are successful we’ll seek industry partners to further develop and commercialise these drugs.”
The RET inhibitor programme was led by scientists at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. Investment by the CPF in 2014 built on the research of the group and enabled the acceleration of the programme.
The RET gene plays a critical role in the development of medullary thyroid cancer. Up to two percent of non-small cell lung adenocarcinomas – originating in the mucus-secreting cells lining the airways – have RET mutations. The project aims to discover novel compounds targeting the RET gene in a specific population of patients.
Dr Donald Ogilvie, head of Drug Discovery at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: “We’re pleased to work with the CRT Pioneer Fund to accelerate progress on the exciting RET inhibitors discovered by Cancer Research UK scientists at our Institute.
“Lung cancer can be difficult to treat successfully. As part of the Cancer Research UK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence, we’re determined to get new lung cancer treatments to patients. Identifying this candidate drug molecule offers the potential to help boost survival from this disease.”
Dr Phil L’Huillier, Cancer Research Technology's director of business development, said: “It’s fantastic news that CRT’s Pioneer Fund has helped speed up this important research from the lab to potentially benefit patients. It’s essential that we bridge the innovation gap in UK drug discovery, so that patients can quickly get the promising new drugs being developed in Cancer Research UK labs and elsewhere around the world.”