Discovering new leukaemia drugs

Lead researcher - Professor Terence Rabbitts, University of Oxford
Targeting protein-protein interactions in leukaemia for novel therapeutics
Amount awarded: £1,388,989
Award start date: 01 Mar 2013
Award duration: 7 years

Recent successes with drugs that are aimed at mutant proteins in leukaemia and the many examples of mutant proteins suggests that more work focused on these for developing drugs would be a great benefit for patient’s cancer management. Where whole chromosomes are involved, we often see the most drastic mutant proteins formed that are in fact two proteins joined together. However, finding drugs that will influence those mutant proteins is hard because they work inside the leukaemia cells and they function by touching other proteins. Therefore we need to block those protein-protein interactions and that is where our work is aimed. While we will focus on three different leukaemia proteins (they are called LMO2, RAS and MLL), we plan to implement and develop translational research that will go beyond these particular examples but lead to a general approach that can be applied to a wide range of leukaemia and lymphomas. We plan only to take the development work on the three targets to an intermediate stage and provide licensing opportunities to pharmaceutical companies that will bring early benefits to leukaemia patients whilst allowing us to continue to develop technologies for further treatment options.