Cancer Research Technology, the Institute of Cancer Research and Janssen Partner for Myeloma Drug
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) announced earlier today that they have partnered with Johnson & Johnson unit, Janssen Biotech, in an agreement to discover a potential new drug for the blood cancer, multiple myeloma.
The partnership is aiming to identify molecules and develop them into experimental therapies that block a key protein involved in a signalling pathway, known as the unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway, which researchers believe plays a role in avoiding cell death, allowing damaged cells to multiply.
Multiple myeloma is the third most common type of blood cancer, with roughly 4,700 new cases and approximately 2,600 deaths annually in the UK. The cancer is often successfully treated in the beginning, but a lot of patients eventually become resistant to treatment, so there is an urgent requirement for new therapies.
The agreement is designed so that teams at the Institute of Cancer Research will work alongside researchers at Janssen, with Cancer Research UK and Janssen jointly subsidising up to 25 scientists, and the drug maker providing additional cash to back the research at the Institute.
Janssen have agreed to pay future milestones and royalties on any drugs that progress through development and make it to the market, and will also lead on the clinical development of potential drugs.
Explaining the reasoning behind the alignment, Professor Paul Workman, director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and deputy chief executive of the ICR, commented that multiple myeloma patients “urgently need new treatments and we are confident this exciting collaboration gives us a good chance of delivering for them.”
“The drug discovery and biology expertise provided by Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at the ICR, and Janssen’s extensive experience of oncology drug development, is an exciting combination which we hope will identify potential new drugs to hit this promising target,” Laura Fletcher, Cancer Research Technology’s associate director of business development, added.
A variety of other cancers also depend heavily on the UPR, so although this work will initially concentrate on myeloma, any new drugs developed could also help other cancers.