Cancer Research UK and the Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund (CPF) have announced a major collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of the Unites States.
The intention is to tackle RAS, one of the most common driving mutations in aggressive cancers, and often particularly difficult to treat.
Developing and testing innovative new molecules that target RAS will be a focus of the new arrangement.
Dealing with RAAS has been particularly challenging for sciences, as the faulty protein lacks an obvious site on its surface for potential drug molecules to bind with.
Researchers at the NCI in Maryland, USA, will work with the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow in order to develop and what they hope will be an effective treatment.
Scientists will particularly focus on developing what is described as the gold standard test, enabling the analysis of novel RAS inhibitors.
The CRT Pioneer Fund will be involved in the commercial marketing of any drugs that result from this new collaboration.
This fund is managed by Sixth Element Capital, and is generally focused on developing oncology programmes.
Dr Martin Drysdale, head of the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, suggested that the collaboration would lead to a major breakthrough in treating RAS.
“Our team is determined to challenge the dogma that RAS is ‘undruggable.’ This collaboration is our biggest yet and will double our resource targeting RAS. We are excited to be joining forces with the NCI in their pioneering RAS Initiative.”
Scientists from around the globe will be involved in the collaboration, and Dr Frank McCormick, who directs the research efforts of the RAS Initiative at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, suggested that the impressive array of researchers assembled would build on what is an increasingly holistic understanding of the condition.
“We’re making progress in our understanding of how RAS proteins function at the molecular level and how they form signalling complexes in membranes. New technologies and tools mean we can now analyse these proteins in ways that were not possible a few years ago, and can now test new ways of blocking RAS function,” McCormick asserted.
And Dr Iain Foulkes, chief executive of Cancer Research Technology and executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, also proclaimed the new approach.
“This international collaboration and investment could herald a new era in targeting RAS. We hope to develop these small molecules to pave the way for potential drugs in the future. Our aim is to work alongside industry to ensure any progress makes its way into clinical trials.”
Cancer Research UK was formed on 4th February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.