“Darwinian” Cancer Drug Program to Launch, Tackling Cancer Treatment Resistance

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A “Darwinian” drug discovery program aimed at tackling cancer’s ability to develop drug resistance will launch in a new center based in London, United Kingdom.

A “Darwinian” drug discovery program aimed at tackling cancer’s ability to develop drug resistance will launch in a new center based in London, United Kingdom, according to a May 15, 2019 press release.

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR, London, UK) is investing £75 million (US$96 million) to create the new Center for Cancer Drug Discovery, which will bring together global researchers to work on treatments to tackle resistance. The aim for this collaborative research will be to overcome or redirect the whole process of cancer evolution by “herding” cancers with anti-evolution drugs and combinations. 

A further £15 million (US$19 million) is being sought by the ICR from philanthropic donations, which will be used to complete the new building and equip it with the latest instruments and computational technologies. Projects to be hosted within the new center will include the use of artificial intelligence and advanced maths to “herd” cancer so it has to adapt to one treatment by developing weaknesses to others, the creation of the first anti-evolution cancer drug, and the development of innovative, multidrug combinations that block several cancer genes simultaneously.

“Cancer’s ability to adapt, evolve, and become drug resistant is the cause of the vast majority of deaths from the disease and the biggest challenge we face in overcoming it. At the ICR, we are changing the entire way we think about cancer, to focus on understanding, anticipating, and overcoming cancer evolution,” said Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of the ICR. “If we can raise a further £15 million to deliver our new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, we can bring together under one roof experts in cancer therapeutics alongside others studying evolution in animals, cells, and individual patients, to create a new generation of cancer treatments. 


“We will create exciting new ways of meeting the challenge of cancer evolution head on, by blocking the entire process of evolutionary diversity, using AI and maths to herd cancer into more treatable forms, and tackling cancer with multi-drug combinations as used successfully against HIV and tuberculosis,” he continued. “We firmly believe that, with further research, we can find ways to make cancer a manageable disease in the long term and one that is more often curable, so patients can live longer and with a better quality of life. But that research will need support and our new center will dramatically accelerate the progress we’re already making.”

“More and more cancer patients are living longer and with many fewer side effects through new targeted cancer treatments. But unfortunately, we’re also seeing that cancer can become resistant very quickly to new drugs-and this is the greatest challenge we face,” added Dr Olivia Rossanese, who will be head of biology in the new Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery. “Within the Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, we plan to deliver a drug discovery programme that is wholly focused on meeting the challenge of cancer evolution and drug resistance through completely new ways of attacking the disease.”

Source: ICR