Immuno-oncology collaboration to develop new type of cancer drug

Human breast cancer cells stained for DNA

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, are teaming up with small molecule neoantigen immuno-oncology company NeoPhore to develop new potential cancer drugs.

Under a new strategic research collaboration, an ICR team led by Professor Chris Lord will investigate the effect of NeoPhore’s inhibitors on tumours in the laboratory.

The inhibitors are small molecules that target proteins involved in DNA mismatch repair (MMR), an important process in cells that corrects mistakes that are introduced to DNA when they divide.

Research by NeoPhore suggests that these first-in-class ‘MMR modulators’ can replicate clinical anti-tumour responses seen with existing immunotherapies (such as anti-PD1/L1 treatments) in patients with microsatellite unstable (MSI) tumours that intrinsically lack MMR function.

Professor Chris Lord, Professor of Cancer Genomics and Deputy Head of the Division of Breast Cancer Research, Deputy Leader of the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre, and Cancer Research UK Gene Function Team Leader at the ICR, said: “We are excited about this new collaboration with NeoPhore. Identifying new ways of treating cancer is central to much of what we do here at the ICR and this project will focus on exactly that.”

Dr Matthew Baker, Chief Executive Officer of NeoPhore, added: “We are excited to collaborate with Prof Chris Lord who is a prominent and respected researcher in the field. We believe that this impactful collaboration has the potential to broaden the use of MMR inhibitors beyond neoantigen generation. Ultimately the results of the collaboration have the potential to provide significant patient benefit in a variety of solid tumour indications.”

Image: Human breast cancer cells stained for DNA (red). New treatments aim to take advantage in cancer cells’ DNA repair mechanisms. Credit: Julia Sero/ICR

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