Written By: Abbie Smith
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has helped to develop the new experimental drug, which has entered Phase 1 of safety testing with patients.
The drug, known at the moment as ADZ5363, works by blocking the enzymes that are involved with cancer development and which also cause tumours to become resistant to existing anti-cancer medication.
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The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Christie Hospital NHS Trust in the UK are going to be involved in testing the drug, along with a hospital in the Netherlands.
Scientists and doctors are looking for patients with advanced solid tumours to test the drug, in order to determine the safety, tolerability and initial anti-cancer activity of ADZ5363.
They are also hoping to identify a suitable treatment dose that will be used in later trials of the drug.
The study in being funded by AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company which has a major drug and medicine development centre in the UK.
The ICR has been aware of the potential benefits of targeting PKB with a cancer drug for some time, after the crystal structure of the enzyme was indentified.
This detailed 3D understanding of PKB lead to the development of a chemical which could lock on the enzyme and block its cancer causing functions.
Professor Paul Workman, Director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR, said: "After many years of research into the enzyme PKB, we are delighted that this inhibitor has reached the patient trial stage."
"This inhibitor is one of a number of new-generation drugs designed to target the genetic defects responsible for causing various cancers, and which have the potential to be used as part of personalized treatments that have greater activity and fewer side-effects than traditional drugs."
Dr Udai Banerji from the ICR and The Royal Marsden Hospital will lead the UK arm of the clinical trial, while Dr Michelle Garrett, from the Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRT), will carry out an investigation into the effects of the drug by testing patients’ blood and tissues for circulating tumour cells.
Dr Banerji says: "We believe that PKB inhibitors could potentially halt the growth of a wide range of cancers, including some that presently have very few treatment options. We are very pleased that patients could soon benefit from this exciting new approach."