Medivir and Cancer Research Technology link up to develop new cancer drugs

Will conduct a two-year research programme to develop small molecules targeting the ADAM8 protein

Swedish biotechnology company Medivir has agreed a partnership with Cancer Research Technology (CRT), Cancer Research UK’s commercialisation and development arm, to develop a new class of drugs that shows promise for treating a range of cancers.

The companies will conduct a two-year research programme to develop small molecules targeting the cell surface protein ADAM8, which has been linked to tumour survival, cell invasion and metastasis.

Financial terms have not been disclosed, except that the deal will see Medivir receive an exclusive, global licence to research, develop, manufacture and commercialise ADAM8 inhibitor drugs resulting from the research. CRT will receive an upfront payment and milestones as well as royalties on sales which are shared with the academic collaborators.

Trials in mice with pancreatic cancer have shown that ADAM8 prevented the spread of the disease, shrank tumours and significantly extended lifespan. This is thought to be due to the protein's involvement in cell adhesion, cell migration, inflammation and the growth of blood vessels – key processes for tumour growth and development. High levels of the protein have been linked with more aggressive tumours including those in pancreatic, breast, brain, prostate, lung, head and neck, and kidney cancers.

Professor Jörg Bartsch, Head of the TransMIT-Project Division for Research in Neuro-Oncology at TransMIT, located at Marburg University, Germany, will lead the research in collaboration with Medivir.

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