AI discovery collaboration targets precision cancer drugs

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Researchers will combine expertise in drug discovery, artificial intelligence (AI), and experimental cancer models and platforms in a new programme to design the precision cancer drugs of the future.

Under an academic and commercial collaboration between The Institute of Cancer Research, London, the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Barcelona, and the company Vivan Therapeutics, a multi-disciplinary team will seek to create drugs that can counteract drug resistance.

The team will have a particular focus on creating drugs that could target KRAS, a notorious cancer-driving protein. Few currently approved drugs target KRAS, and patients usually become resistant within months to those that are available.

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) led by Professor Paul Workman and Dr Albert Antolin at IDIBELL, will work with Vivan Therapeutics to create new, more effective targeted cancer drugs that could be less prone to the problem of resistance.

Vivan Therapeutics has developed a collection of fruit fly models that have faults in KRAS, either alone or in combination with other gene faults that drive cancer growth. The company has also developed a technology platform to enable testing of cancer therapies at a high-throughput level.

Professor Paul Workman, Group Leader of the Signal Transduction and Molecular Pharmacology Team at the ICR, said: “I’m very much looking forward to working with the teams at IDIBELL and Vivan. Our goal is to find safe and effective new drugs that are less likely to evoke resistance than current drugs, by targeting multiple weaknesses in cancer at once – and that ultimately benefit cancer patients by giving them new treatment options that last longer than those that are currently available.”

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