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Developing ‘Omomyc’ as a new cancer drug

  • Researcher: Dr Laura Soucek
  • Institution: Fundacio Institut d'Investigacio Oncologica Vall Hebron (VHIO)
  • Award Amount: £170,357 for 3 years from June 2013
  • Cancer Type: Lung Cancer
Developing ‘Omomyc’ as a new cancer drug
One of the best advances in cancer treatment over the last decade has been the advent of what are called ‘targeted’ therapies.  These treatments are designed specifically to attack individual proteins in or on cancer cells that are driving the cancer to grow.  Unfortunately, scientists are finding that treating cancer with targeted therapies can be rather like building a dam across a stream; the water stops for a while but eventually it finds a way around the blockage.

Dr Soucek is working on one way to tackle this problem, by blocking a protein called myc.  Myc is common to many cancers and is a component of so many cell growth pathways.  Dr Soucek’s group have developed a myc-blocking protein fragment called omomyc that has been shown in animal models to be very effective at stopping cancer growth.  But the problem that prevents it from being used in humans is that omomyc is not able to get into cancer cells easily, a crucial property that any cancer drug must have. 

This Worldwide Cancer Research project looks specifically at how omomyc might be chemically modified so that it can move easily into cancer cells by itself.  Modified omomyc protein fragments will then be tested to see if they can eliminate lung cancer in a mouse model.  This project represents a crucial step in the drug development process that will, if successful, turn omomyc from scientific tool to potential new cancer drug, and open up the prospect of future clinical trials.
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