A collaboration has been signed between the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, and Vivan Therapeutics to jointly develop molecules that recognize more than one target for personalized treatment of colorectal cancer.
Treatment resistance – when cancer adapts, evolves and manages to evade therapy – is one of the biggest challenges in cancer research. Although a drug directed at a specific tumor target may initially be effective in stopping tumor growth, it may develop resistance over time. With this new collaboration, the researchers will combine their experience in the design of new drugs to counteract resistance to treatments.
KRAS gene mutations occur in approximately 30% of cancers and are particularly common in lung and colon adenocarcinomas. In this sense, various approaches are being developed to block the activity of KRAS. However, the mutated KRAS has proven to be very difficult to inhibit, and when obtained, resistance develops within a few months. In addition, KRAS mutations are unlikely to occur alone and in most tumors there are also other mutations affecting oncogenic genes, often with a relevant role in drug resistance and limiting the efficacy of targeting only KRAS.
Therefore, the development of more efficient pharmacological tools to inhibit KRAS is an urgent unmet medical need. With this objective, Vivan Therapeutics has developed a collection of KRAS models in the fruit fly, either alone or in combination with other oncogenic mutations, and a technological platform that allows testing multiple therapies with high performance.
Dr. Albert Antolin, formerly at the ICR and now at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), will use sophisticated new computational methods to identify promising compounds that can target both KRAS and other oncogenic mutations. On his part, Professor Paul Workman, leader of the ICR’s signal transduction and molecular pharmacology team, will test these promising compounds in cancer cells before moving on to fly models developed by Vivan Therapeutics.
Dr. Antolin states: “I am very excited about this multidisciplinary collaboration between industry and academia, each bringing very different and complementary expertise to meet an important challenge that could make a big difference for many cancer patients.”
The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.
IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).