Cancer drug developer Antisoma, the Institute of Cancer Research (The Institute) and Cancer Research Technology (CRT) announced a collaboration and licensing agreement under which Antisoma has acquired rights to develop and commercialise novel anti-cancer compounds called PPM1D (protein phosphatase magnesium-dependent 1 d) inhibitors.

Work carried out at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre and at the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics, both of which are at The Institute, showed that these compounds inhibit PPM1D and selectively kill cells that over-express this phosphatase. Over-expression of PPM1D occurs in many cases of cancer, and can be readily detected. PPM1D inhibitors could therefore have potential as highly targeted treatments for patients whose cancers are known to express the phosphatase.

Antisoma plans to continue the preclinical development of PPM1D inhibitors from The Institute's pipeline. Antisoma and The Institute have also formed a collaboration to explore further the potential of PPM1D-based approaches to cancer treatment. This work will continue to take place at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre and the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics.

Antisoma will make an immediate upfront payment and fund certain research at The Institute. Further payments will be made on achievement of development and regulatory milestones, and royalties will be paid on any sales of compounds resulting from the collaboration.

Director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at The Institute, Professor Alan Ashworth, said: "This research marks another step forward in our understanding of the basic biology involved in the development of some cancers, and highlights the need to develop treatments targeting the specific biology of different tumours.

"This research exemplifies the ethos of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre – working in partnership with other organisations to progress cutting-edge scientific research into patient benefit. We look forward to continuing our research into PPM1D inhibitors with Antisoma with the eventual aim of taking this approach into clinical trials."

Professor Paul Workman, Director of the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute, said: "A partnership such as this is crucial in allowing us to take this discovery from laboratory to patients much faster than we could achieve on our own.

"Scientists at The Institute have discovered compounds which block the effects of PPM1D, causing cancerous cells to self-destruct. Through our partnership with Antisoma we hope to take the next step towards developing a new drug treatment for cancer"

Antisoma's Chief Executive Officer, Glyn Edwards, said: "We are delighted to be working with one of the world's leading cancer research institutions. The Institute's PPM1D inhibitors are another promising addition to our preclinical portfolio. They fit with our strategy of acquiring a diverse range of novel preclinical compounds with potential to add value to our clinical pipeline in the future."