Dr Klaus Pors, a Medicinal Chemist based at the University’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, has been awarded £96,474 by Yorkshire Cancer Research to develop a medicine that is harmless to the body but will help to eradicate tumours by using the cancer cell to convert a drug from something inactive to a powerful cell-killing agent.
The research centres on a group of proteins found in all humans called Cytochromes P450 (CYPs), which are most commonly found in the liver. They form part of the body’s immune system and their job is to metabolise compounds in the liver and other filter organs, making these compounds more ‘polar’ and enabling harmful substances to be excreted out of the body via the urinary system.
Whilst there are 57 known types of CYPs, some are known to be more highly present in cancer cells compared to the surrounding normal tissue. Dr Pors aims to exploit them by essentially hijacking the CYPs in the tumour to produce an agent that is highly damaging to the cancer cell DNA whilst leaving normal healthy cells alone.
Dr Pors will be using the grant to employ a post-doctoral researcher to help develop these novel tumour-selective agents. He said: “A major obstacle in the treatment of cancer is the lack of selective killing of cancer cells. Clinicians currently use chemotherapeutic agents which generally damage normal tissues and lead to severe side-effects.
“It is envisaged that an agent would be administered to patients that produces no side-effects commonly associated with current therapies, but when reaching the tumour will be converted to an ultra-potent agent that causes the demise of the tumour.
“I’m delighted that Yorkshire Cancer Research has funded our work here, using money raised in the region for research in the region but more importantly, if our work is successful, patients all over the world could benefit from such highly targeted anti-cancer drugs that in principle will cause no harmful side-effects.”
Dr Pors and a team of researchers have spent the last 15 months analysing samples taken from cancer patients in Bradford and Leeds in order to get to this stage. If the lab-based work is successful, he hopes to move to Phase 1 Clinical Trials within five years.
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