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Cancer Research UK and the Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund (CPF) have committed £2.5 million in collaboration with the US's National Cancer Institute (NCI) to tackle one of the toughest challenges in cancer that has thwarted researchers for more than 30 years.
Scientists will develop and test promising new molecules for targeting RAS, one of the most common driving mutations in aggressive, hard to treat cancers including pancreatic and lung cancer. Scientists at the NCI in Frederick, Maryland, USA will work with the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, Scotland to develop gold standard tests to analyse these novel RAS inhibitors. This new collaboration links up with the NCI’s RAS Initiative, which brings scientists together from around the globe to help develop drugs targeting the faulty protein. Launched in 2013, the initiative has established a hub of expertise that supports the international community in developments that could have huge clinical benefit. The CRT Pioneer Fund, managed by Sixth Element Capital, will be responsible for the commercial exploitation of compounds that arise from the collaboration. Dr Martin Drysdale, head of the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: “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.” “Instead of scientists working and thinking in isolation, the NCI has created a research hub to pull together all the best science and expertise. My team is looking forward to contributing and working with Dr Frank McCormick, who leads the RAS Initiative and who has been at the forefront of cancer science for many years.”