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Exploring the 'Davids and Goliaths' of therapeutic molecules
Date:4/8/2010

Two research units under Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) and Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), are collaborating with Italy's Siena Biotech S.p.A. to develop new drugs and targeted antibodies respectively, which will potentially help millions of cancer and bone loss patients across the world. This is the fifth major collaboration A*STAR has with research centres and universities in Italy .

Small molecule for cancer therapy

ETC and Siena Biotech are developing molecular inhibitors of a major signalling pathway in oncology to target difficult-to-treat forms of cancer such as gastric cancer, leukaemia and brain tumours. During this collaboration, up to six groups from ETC and some 30 scientists from Siena Biotech will be conducting tests on synthetic compounds to characterise and optimise their inhibitor function in cancer cells. A drug is expected to enter clinical trials in 2011.

Targeted forms of cancer therapy have gained significant interest since the late 1990s. They employ small molecules that inhibit mutated, overexpressed, or otherwise critical proteins characteristic of a particular cancer cell, rather than non-specifically inhibiting and killing of all rapidly dividing cells within the body. ETC and Siena Biotech's molecular inhibitors may improve the prognosis for a very significant number of cancer patients, given that gastric cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the world and the second leading cause of cancer death. Gastric cancer is also one of the most common in Singapore (fifth highest in men and seventh highest in women, according to the Singapore Cancer Registry), with over 600 cases diagnosed every year.

"ETC is committed to translating early-stage scientific discoveries into practical applications," said Prof Alex Matter, CEO of ETC and leader of the research team that discovered the first targeted anti-cancer
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Contact: Yunshi Wang
wang_yunshi@a-star.edu.sg
656-826-6443
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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