Cambridge, UK, 1st November 2011.
Domainex Ltd., the UK-based drug discovery company focused on speed and innovation, has been awarded a £250,000 grant by the Technology Strategy Board - the UK’s national innovation agency - to help support the development of a new drug for the treatment of several common cancers.
Domainex’s novel drug will work by inhibiting two closely-related protein kinase enzymes, TBK1 and IKKε. Recent studies carried out by academic groups and by Domainex have shown that blocking these protein kinases will stop certain cancer cell lines from growing, suggesting that inhibitors of these enzymes can be used for the treatment of cancer. Furthermore, these enzymes are also important in some inflammatory diseases, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes: and so Domainex’s drug could have exciting wider applications.
Domainex’s initial attention will be focused on breast and ovarian cancers. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Every year it affects over a million women worldwide and is the leading cause of death for women aged 40-44. The five-year survival rate for Stage V cancer patients (advanced disease progression) is just 16%. Ovarian cancer is rarely diagnosed in its early stages and is usually quite advanced by the time diagnosis is made, resulting in poor prognoses. The five-year survival rate for all stages is only 35% to 38%.
Domainex’s Research Director, Trevor Perrior, said: “A TBK1/IKKε inhibitor would have a significant impact on patients with breast, ovarian and possibly other cancers, leading to a better quality of life, and improved survival rates. The novel mode of action will allow the treatment of patients with drug-resistant triple-negative tumours which are of increasing importance in the clinic.”
Domainex’s TBK1/IKKe programme has already identified potent, selective and drug-like inhibitors. These inhibitors have been shown to be effective in inhibiting several cancer cell lines. Domainex’s research objective is to identify a Candidate Drug that is effective in disease models and would be orally well-absorbed by humans. The subsequent commercialization of this new drug would be undertaken in partnership with a large pharmaceutical company which has the resources to take the drug through clinical trials and to the marketplace.
The CEO of Domainex, Eddy Littler, commented: “Domainex is presently a leader in this field. The funding of this proposal will allow Domainex to recruit a number of scientists, preserving highly-skilled drug discovery jobs in the UK. Given recent trends in the pharmaceutical industry it is very likely that the future of drug research in this country will be based largely upon the success and growth of biotechnology companies such as Domainex. We thank the TSB for its support.”
About The Technology Strategy Board
• The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org
• The funding was awarded by the Technology Strategy Board through its Grant for Research and Development scheme. This offers funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to engage in R&D projects in the strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology, from which successful new products, processes and services could emerge. The scheme supports R&D projects which offer potentially significant rewards and could stimulate UK economic growth.
• Domainex uses unique and proprietary technologies to resolve common bottlenecks facing the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries in the post-genomic era. Major discovery 'gaps' exist between the vast amount of genomic information that is now available, the accessibility of the corresponding proteins for use in target validation and drug discovery, and the identification of robust hits in a cost effective manner. Founded in 2002, Domainex is a privately owned company based in Cambridge, UK.
• Domainex has developed a discovery platform, which enables rapid progression of drug discovery projects from novel target through to Candidate Drug by means of its Combinatorial Domain Hunting technology, LeadBuilder virtual hit screening software, and its integrated approach to medicinal and computational chemistry.
• Domainex’s patented CDH technology enables the cloning and expression of soluble drug target protein domains in E. coli, followed by the identification of those constructs that are able to bind a ligand. This enables binding assays to be developed, facilitating hit identification studies. In only 3-4 months, all expressible ligand binding domains of a target protein are identified (from libraries of 20,000-100,000 constructs), enabling key rate limiting steps in early drug discovery to be easily overcome and resulting in large time savings over standard approaches.
• Domainex has also developed LeadBuilder - a virtual screening approach for targets which is specifically aimed at quickly identifying hit molecules that are ideally suited for further development.
• The experienced medicinal chemistry team has a proven track record in supporting biotech or university groups by providing expertise to take hit compounds through lead optimization and on to candidate selection. Three compounds to date arising from these collaborations are currently in clinical evaluation, with two additional drugs in preclinical studies.
For more information contact:
Dr Joanne McCudden
Head of Business Development
Tel +44 (0)1993 201 801