DNA-PK inhibitor compounds have potential in solid tumors and blood cancers.

The AstraZeneca subsidiary, KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, exercised its option to license exclusive rights to a DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) inhibitor oncology program from Cancer Research Technology (CRT).

The two-year deal will also give KuDOS exclusive rights to develop IP originating through continued joint research with CRT scientists at Newcastle University, U.K.  Current leads are in late-stage discovery prior to formal preclinical development, reports Niall Martin Ph.D., KuDOS’s CEO. “The inhibitors will be used in combination with DNA damaging agents with indications for clinical development potentially including multiple solid tumors and haematological malignancies.”

CRT says the agreement, which includes up-front, milestone, and royalty payments, will result in significant investment in Cancer Research UK’s DNA-PK drug discovery program at Newcastle University.  

DNA-PK plays a pivotal role in the cellular repair response to DNA damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which can reduce the effectiveness of such treatments. The target’s role in the DNA repair response pathway was discovered by KuDOS’ founder, professor Steve Jackson, through Cancer Research UK-funded work at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Martin adds. Previous lab-based studies carried out by the company and the Newcastle University team has shown that DNA-PK inhibitors can increase the efficacy of current chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimes.

KuDOS was bought by AstraZeneca in 2006 for $210 million in cash. The company’s lead product, an oral ply-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) enzyme inhibitor (AZD2281), is currently being progressed through Phase II trials in breast and ovarian cancer by AstraZeneca. Regulatory filing in the U.S. and Europe is projected to be in 2012.

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