Scientists get grant for cancer drug research

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scientists in Yorkshire have been handed £300,000 for ground-breaking work to uncover new drugs against cancer.

The funding from the charity Yorkshire Cancer Research will enable Prof Laurence Patterson and his team at Bradford University’s Institute for Cancer Therapeutics to continue work to identify targets for anti-cancer drugs, develop approaches for treatment and find out whether they work.

One approach already developed by the programme, which has the potential to find and destroy solid tumours, will now be taken for a final assessment which, if successful, will lead to trials on patients at St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

The drug is inactive until triggered by the heightened activity of an enzyme always found in a tumour environment, releasing a potent anti-cancer agent which destroys the tumour’s blood vessels, causing it to starve to death.

In a separate award by the charity, researchers at Sheffield University have been handed a further £187,000 to harness new techniques to explore the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancers.

The three-year project led by Prof Peter Andrews, of the university’s department of biomedical science, aims to develop new tools for exploring the origins and causes of paediatric cancers.

Experts believe cancers in childhood are triggered by defects in embryonic development before birth.

Scientists plan to analyse the development process in an attempt to discover specific genes and molecular processes which either drive the cancers or their progression once they are formed.