Sentinel Oncology, which is focused on the discovery of novel treatments for cancer, has been awarded a grant under the Eurostars scheme in order to continue the development of new treatments for leukaemia.
The project will focus on the development of small molecule Chk1 inhibitors for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), and a corresponding diagnostic to accurately measure treatment response throughout the pre-clinical phase and in clinical trials.
Sentinel Oncology will collaborate on the project with Biovica, a Swedish based company which specialises in the development of novel cancer diagnostics. Biovica’s patented testing method, called DiviTum™, measures levels of the enzyme thymidine kinase in the blood and is able to, at a very early stage, detect abnormal cell division in the body, which can be a sign of cancer. The test is also used for cancer patients, in particular to monitor the effect of cancer treatment. The technology shows great promise in not only leukaemia treatment but could be expanded to treat solid tumours in the future.
Approximately 2,000 new cases of AML are diagnosed each year in the UK. While AML can occur in people of any age group, incidence increases with age. As the average population age increases, AML incidence is likely to rise and new, safer and more effective treatments will become more important as a result.
Current drug treatments for AML suffer from poor efficacy and numerous unwanted side-effects. The search for new drugs and methods of determining efficacy is of great importance to clinicians and the general public.
“We are delighted to partner with Biovica on such an important project,” said Stuart Travers, Chief Operating Officer of Sentinel Oncology. “Being able to bring not only a new Sentinel Oncology product but an accompanying diagnostic developed by Biovica to the market will bring enormous benefits to both companies and to patients.”
The Eurostars programme was established to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in obtaining research and development funding. From close to 350 applicants and 100 funded projects, Sentinel Oncology’s project was ranked fourth in this round of the programme.