A study published in Nature Chemical Biology demonstrates the importance of the Cdc7 protein in DNA replication, which is essential for the growth of cancer cells. The Cdc7 inhibitor discovered by researchers at Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl., is the first drug described to target this important mechanism underlying the proliferation of cancer cells.
The study was published as the cover article in the prestigious journal Nature Chemical Biology
Today online edition of Nature Chemical Biologyhttp://www.nature.com/nchembio/index.html) illustrates an important discovery made by researchers at Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl. (NMS), one of the leading oncology R&D companies in Europe.
The article focuses on a new anti-cancer molecule that inhibits Cdc7, a target protein implicated in DNA replication and cell division.
The study emphasises how the molecule discovered by NMS displays effective anti-cancer activity in numerous preclinical models of cancer by interfering with the onset of replication and thereby blocking the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells.
The targeted pharmacological block of Cdc7 constitutes a novel, potentially less toxic approach compared to the anti-cancer treatments currently available.
This work led to the validation of Cdc7 as an important new target for cancer treatment. Preclinical findings reveal how inhibition of Cdc7 leads to the death of various cancer cells, including those resistant to currently marketed replication blocking drugs.
A Cdc7 inhibitor similar to the molecule described in the study was recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) by NMS. Francesco Colotta, R&D Director at NMS, stated: "Over the next few months, studies will be undertaken in both Europe and North America to verify the tolerability and efficacy of the inhibitor in patients affected by numerous types of cancer, including ovarian, colon and breast cancer and several forms of leukaemia. The Cdc7 inhibitor discovered by Nerviano researchers is the first drug in the world to selectively target this important mechanism underlying cancer cell proliferation".
The relevance of the discovery made by Nerviano researchers is further underlined by the decision of the editors of Nature Chemical Biology also to dedicate the front cover to the article, together with a comment by Dr. Peter Jackson, Research Director at Genentech.
With a yearly investment exceeding 60 million Euros, NMS focuses on numerous other fronts in the fight against cancer besides Cdc7. Currently, the preclinical pipeline at NMS comprises 19 projects focusing on kinase and non-kinase cancer targets.
Furthermore, NMS has set up multiple clinical trials (including phase II) to study the effect of a first in class Aurora inhibitor in various cancer types. Additional trials are also underway with an inhibitor of CDK, another kinase implicated in cancer cell proliferation. The Company currently has five NCEs in clinical development in oncolology.