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Designing new anti-cancer drugs

  • Researcher: Professor Michael Threadgill
  • Institution: University of Bath
  • Award Amount: £201,922 for 3 years from October 2013
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Designing new anti-cancer drugs
Professor Threadgill and Dr Nathubhai are using their Worldwide Cancer Research grant to make potential new anti-cancer drugs that will act on proteins called Tankyrase-1 and Tankyrase-2 to stop them from working. Designing, making and testing drugs is an extremely long process and this grant is a continuation of a previous Worldwide Cancer Research grant awarded to Professor Threadgill.

He plans that the drugs will stop the growth of cancer cells through three different mechanisms, to increase the effectiveness. The tankyrases are present at abnormally high levels in cancer cells, which makes them good targets to selectively kill cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unharmed. The specific shapes of the Tankyrases are already known and Professor Threadgill is using computer software to design potential new drugs in "virtual reality", making the discovery process more efficient and cutting out laboratory work on those chemicals which can be predicted to be ineffective. Potential drugs which appear to fit well into these proteins in the computer model will be made in his chemical laboratory.

He will then test them to see if they actually do work on the Tankyrases but on no other useful proteins. Then further testing will show if they actually do stop cancer cells growing. The researchers hope that the completion of this project will provide one or more potential anti-cancer drugs which work by new mechanisms of action. These would then need to be developed further and tested for their safety and effectiveness before being tested in patients.
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