Queen’s University Belfast researchers at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) in Northern Ireland alongside local company Fusion Antibodies plc have secured a Medical Research Council (MRC) award for drug development at the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Globally, pancreatic cancer is still one of the most difficult cancers to treat, and new treatments are urgently required. After securing the award for drug development, researchers will work towards a new antibody drug for the treatment of the disease.
Recent statistics from Cancer Research UK show that in the UK alone almost 10,000 new cases are detected annually, and the outlook for patients is much poorer than those suffering from other cancers.
Professor Dan Longley, Chair of Molecular Oncology at the Centre for Cancer Research Cell Biology (CCRCB), said: “immunotherapy, has been heralded as a game-changing approach for other cancers such as skin melanomas, but new innovations are required to treat pancreatic cancer, and this is the focus of our current work.”
How will the research assist drug development?
The researchers will aim to address this gap by designing an antibody that specifically targets the surface of the cancer cells.
Professor Chris Scott, Chair of Pharmaceutical Biosciences at CCRCB at Queen’s University, said: “Pancreatic cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK.
“Our aim is to develop a new antibody drug that will re-arm and trigger the patients’ own immune systems to combat the disease. This exciting project is very much in line with the research ethos of Queen’s University, which is centred on global challenges. With this discovery, we hope to change the lives of people across the world who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”
This project builds on a successful research programme funded by the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Research & Development Division.
Dr Paul Kerr, Chief Executive at Fusion Antibodies, said: “We are delighted to use our expertise in drug development and antibody engineering to collaborate with Queen’s University to generate new drug candidates for pancreatic cancer.”