CANCER RESEARCH TECHNOLOGY (CRT) has signed a further deal with Merck, a leading science and technology company, to discover new cancer drugs targeting the Hippo pathway, today (Thursday).
The extension to this alliance follows a successful one-year target validation and drug discovery feasibility partnership between CRT's Discovery Laboratories (CRT-DL) in London and Cambridge and Merck at Darmstadt in Germany.
In conjunction with Cancer Research UK's network of key academic scientists, led by Dr Nic Tapon and Dr Barry Thompson, based at the Francis Crick Institute in London, the alliance has developed a better understanding of the role of the Hippo pathway in cancer, and how best to drug key targets.
In healthy cells the Hippo pathway regulates cell size, controlling the growth of tissues during development and regeneration. But, abnormal activation of proteins controlled by the Hippo pathway has been linked to the development of a range of cancers, making it an attractive area for the discovery of novel therapies.
The partnership has now moved into full drug discovery with the aim of eventually identifying molecules to take into preclinical studies and clinical trials. Dr Tapon will remain a key participant in the alliance moving forwards.
CRT will receive royalties and milestone payments from the deal to be invested into Cancer Research UK's lifesaving research.
Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research Technology's chief executive, said: "The extension and expansion of this alliance showcases the success of Cancer Research Technology's Discovery Laboratories drug discovery approach in moving forward exciting new approaches to cancer therapy. We've brought together leading academics in the field and industry to build on world-class research, and we're now focused on developing these early projects for the benefit of cancer patients."
Dr Hamish Ryder, Cancer Research Technology's director of drug discovery, said: "This important research highlights our expertise in applying translational thinking to novel, very early stage science."