£34m investment into anti-cancer medicines at Cardiff University

A recent announcement from Cardiff University has detailed a new £34m investment by Edinburgh-based biopharmaceutical company, NuCana, into the development of anti-cancer drugs at the University.

NuCana intends to develop its range of anti-cancer medicines on the ProTide platform, developed by Professor Chris McGuigan and his research team, at the Cardiff University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Unlike typical anti-cancer drugs that can be limited in their effect by cell resistance-pathways, ProTides are able to bypass this resistance. The technology represents a remarkable leap forward in the potential for cancer-treatment drugs, and is an important one to pursue further.

Further plans are in place to extend the clinical programme of Acelarin, NuCanaís leading product, via the ProTide platform. Having shown great success thus far, the drug will be developed specifically for pancreatic, lung, biliary and ovarian cancers. Development and clinical trial of these drugs, as well as further products, is already underway, and it is expected that a second wave of ProTide-based drugs will be scheduled for 2015 under this new investment partnership.

Hugh Griffeth, Co-Founder and CEO of NuCana, said: “We are delighted to be working with Chris McGuigan and the team in Cardiff. Over the years we have had a very constructive and productive collaboration with Cardiff University that is now bringing real benefits to patients.”

The investment itself represents the 14th largest private biotech investment worldwide, as well as the largest ever in the UK. It grants NuCana exclusive worldwide rights to the usage of, and development on, the ProTide platform for anti-cancer drugs. While any further investment in this vital area of research is excellent news,that Cardiff University is helping in this leap forward is of particular importance.

Professor McGuigan expressed his satisfaction with the developments, stating: “It is very exciting to watch a new medicine emerge, from a theoretical idea, through chemical synthesis in our laboratory here in Cardiff and now as a treatment for patients with cancer.”

“NuCana’s ProTide platform has the potential to deliver patients novel, first-in-class anti-cancer medicines,” he added. “We are excited to be working with the company’s experienced leadership team in the development programme.

“This investment is a real vote of confidence in our research and its application,” he continued.

“Together this brings real potential for developing new and powerful medicines to treat cancer.”

David Mason

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