Cambridge-based PhoreMost has been selected to receive a funding award of €1.96M (£1.4 million) from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to develop its lead oncology programme targeting mutant KRAS cancers.
The British company that aims to provide low-priced and more diversed therapeutics, has developed ‘Site-Seeker’, a next-generation phenotypic screening platform based on PhoreMost’s Protein Interference technology. Site-Seeker can identify the best new targets for drug development and, crucially, how to develop them.
The company’s first drug discovery program is based on a novel target that addresses the “undruggable” cancer gene KRAS, which affects multiple types of cancer. This program is now entering a lead optimization phase and PhoreMost will be seeking partners for its further development by H2 2015.
The Innovate UK funding will support development of this programme through phases of lead optimization and candidate selection, with a longer perspective of creating a drug that may be tested in human clinical trials.
Innovate UK’s review provides independent and competitive validation of PhoreMost’s lead programme development strategy. According to Dr Chris Torrance, CEO of PhoreMost, the award funds will support the creation of novel therapies for cancer patients who have limited treatment options.
KRAS is one of the most commonly mutated genes in cancer: it drives disease initiation and progression, and is frequently a secondary event in ‘acquired’ resistance to new targeted therapies. However, KRAS mutant cancers remain largely unaffected by the development of new targeted therapies. Each year, cancers with RAS mutations cause approximately 25,000 deaths in the UK and nearly 120,000 in the U.S.