R&D alliance restructure presents new DNA damage response partnership opportunities including leading PolQ project

Cancer Research Technology (CRT) today announces that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd has returned a portfolio of DNA Damage Response (DDR) projects to CRT. The move, which follows a strategic decision by Teva to focus on market-ready or close-to-market assets in oncology, presents new partnership opportunities including a leading PolQ project.

The alliance, which bought together world-leading Cancer Research UK scientists in the field of DDR research, CRT’s drug discovery team (CRT’s Discovery Laboratories) and Teva, has successfully established an early DDR portfolio that will continue to be developed by CRT’s Discovery Laboratories whilst a new partner is sought.

The portfolio includes a drug discovery programme targeting PolQ. PolQ is implicated in a wide range of roles including double strand break repair. It is anticipated that Inhibitors of PolQ  will induce radiosensitisation in a range of cancers, and potentially exhibit stand alone activity in Homologous Recombination (HR) deficient tumours**.

The DNA damage response pathways can activate cell cycle checkpoints to stop cells dividing, or they can activate specific DNA repair pathways in response to certain types of DNA damage.  Some of the proteins in these pathways are mutated, or non-functional in human tumours.  This can cause cancer cells to be more reliant on an intact DNA repair pathway for survival providing a therapeutic window.  Developing new drugs that target DDR is a promising new avenue of research to tackle this problem.

Dr Phil L’Huillier, said: “Together with Teva, CRT has created an exciting portfolio, backed by a world-class hub of expertise in DDR-related basic, translational, and clinical research, that we will continue to develop through our in-house drug discovery laboratories.

“This restructure represents a unique new partnership opportunity to research and develop first-in-class cancer drugs that exploit DNA damage and repair response processes to fight cancer.”