Seeding Drug Discovery initiative grant £1.3m

Sentinel Oncology Ltd secures £1.3M investment from Wellcome Trust to develop innovative cancer drugs.

Funds will be used to develop new small molecules which disrupt DNA repair pathways in solid tumours.

Sentinel Oncology Ltd, the drug discovery company announced today that the Wellcome Trust has provided £1.3m of funding under its Seeding Drug Discovery Initiative to develop drugs that are activated by hypoxia in tumours to target DNA repair mechanisms.

In conjunction with Professor Ashok Venkitaraman from the University of Cambridge and the Hutchison MRC Cancer Centre, Sentinel Oncology aims to use the hypoxic tumour micro-environment to activate two synergistic effects within a single compound in order to specifically deliver more potent anti-cancer treatment. The approach dubbed 'Target Synergy' will damage the DNA of the tumour cells and at the same time inhibit critical DNA repair pathways while remaining inherently safe within normal, non-cancerous tissues.

The company will focus on the development of compounds for the treatment of glioblastoma, a tumour which currently responds poorly to traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

"We focus on both tumour hypoxia and the disruption of DNA repair pathways" said Bob Boyle, R&D director for Sentinel Oncology. "The award from the Wellcome Trust will allow us to develop compounds able to attack both pathways and more effectively kill the tumour."

Dr Ted Bianco, Director of Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust acknowledged "the long-term prognosis for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma is poor". Dr Bianco added that "in making this award, it is hoped that the elegant research conducted to date can be demonstrated to have real potential for the treatment of patients. Should the approach be validated, there may be scope to explore its relevance to the treatment of comparable tumours."

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