Cancer Awareness Month: Round up 

September 2021 has been Cancer Awareness Month for Blood, Childhood, Gynaecologic, Ovarian and Prostate Cancer, which affect millions of people around the world annually. Here is a round-up of eight of some of the innovative research and studies being done in order to tackle these various types of cancer.  

1. Building a pipeline of clinically-differentiated cancer therapies 

Avacta Group has dosed the first patient in its Phase I multicentre trial evaluating AVA6000, a novel pro-drug of Doxorubicin and the company’s first therapeutic based on its pre|CISION technology. Megan Thomas speaks Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, about this development.   

2. Cancer Research UK and University of Edinburgh start-up boost 

A University of Edinburgh business-support programme has partnered with Cancer Research UK to help build startup companies focused on tackling cancer. 

3. Scientists identify new therapeutic target in ovarian cancer subtype 

Mutations in the ARID1A gene are present in more than 50% of ovarian clear cell carcinomas (OCCC), for which effective treatments are lacking. Scientists at The Wistar Institute discovered that loss of ARID1A function enhances a cellular stress response pathway that promotes survival of cancer cells, which become sensitive to pharmacological inhibition of this pathway.   

4. Can Covid-19 vaccine technology be used for cancer vaccines? 

Scientists from the University of Oxford and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research are building on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 to develop a vaccine to treat cancer.   

5. CPRIT grant awarded to test potential large-molecule cancer drugs 

Qingyun Liu, leader of a preclinical development core where researchers can test the effectiveness of large molecule drug candidates for novel cancer treatments, has been awarded an approximately $4 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). 

6. New cancer drug to enter first clinical trial targeting HSF1 pathway 

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London has discovered an investigational drug called NXP800, which cancer patients are set to receive for the first time. It was discovered in a Phase I clinical trial sponsored by an oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company, Nuvectis Pharma. 

7. Off-the-shelf potential for NK cell therapies for tumour treatment 

Natural killer (NK) cell therapies have the potential to be an effective, off-the-shelf treatment for a range of cancers. Analysis of NK cell therapies, currently in development, reveals that 57% of these are allogeneic therapies, and although development in haematological indications is more advanced, there are a high number of therapies being investigated in solid tumours, says GlobalData, data and analytics company.  

8. Collaboration to develop a novel cancer immunotherapy 

Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies and PhotonPharma have established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for collaboration to develop Innocell, a novel tumour specific immunotherapy (a therapeutic vaccine) for solid tumours, which can help improve the speed to market for treatment.     

Image credit: National Cancer Institute

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