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A*STAR partners Roche to develop new cancer therapeutics
Date:7/14/2014

SingaporeA*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) has entered into an agreement with one of the world's largest pharmaceutical company, Roche, to identify novel drug candidates for the detection and treatment of cancer. The partnership brings together BTI's capabilities in novel antibody discovery and Roche's expertise in developing monoclonal antibody (mAbs) therapeutics, opening up the possibility of improved treatment for cancer, a leading cause of death worldwide.

The collaboration makes use of BTI's discovery of a new mechanism where antibodies can directly target and destroy cancer cells, which has the potential for an entirely new class of cancer treatment. Cancer cells may be distinguished from normal cells by their elevated levels of sugar on the cell surface. The mAbs discovered and generated by BTI are able to recognise these sugar targets and allow more accurate identification of cancer cells as compared to traditional antibodies that only target proteins. mAbs generated by BTI are also unique in having a novel mechanism of action; they cause pores to form on the surface of cancer cells, leading to cell degradation and the eventual death of these diseased cells.

Dr Andre Choo, Principal Scientist at BTI and lead investigator for the project, said, "It is exciting to be able to generate a new class of mAbs that can specifically recognise sugars and lead to rapid death of diseased cells. This opens up new strategies to target and kill cancer cells."

Based on this discovery, scientists from BTI have developed a pipeline of mAbs for major cancers found in Singapore. The partnership with Roche will allow new diagnostic tests and cancer treatments to be developed more quickly and to be brought earlier to patient care. Such treatments could complement and augment existing cancer drugs and result in more effective and safer treatments for cancer patients.

Prof Lam Kong Peng, Executive Director of BTI,
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Contact: Vanessa Loh
vanessa_loh@a-star.edu.sg
Biomedical Sciences Institutes (BMSI)
Source:Eurekalert  

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