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A third compound from the McGuigan laboratory to enter clinical trials in humans

2 December 2011

3D structure/image of NUC-1031 anti-cancer drug based on gemcitabine

3D structure/image of NUC-1031 anti-cancer drug based on gemcitabine synthesised in the School

click for larger image  464.7 Kb


NuCana BioMed ("Nucana"), a biopharmaceutical company specialising in developing the next generation of anti-cancer therapies, today announced it had secured £6.74 million ($10.4 million) in Series A venture capital financing. The investment was led by Sofinnova Partners, joined by Morningside Ventures, Scottish Investment Bank’s Scottish Venture Fund and Alida Capital International.

 NuCana has exclusive worldwide rights to the revolutionary ProTide technology in cancer.  ProTides were invented in Cardiff University by Professor McGuigan's group and have been successfully used with anti-viral agents.  Two compounds, FV-100 and INX-189, are in clinical trials with the US company Inhibitex for treatment of herpes zoster and hepatitis C respectively.

 NUC1031, based on the anti-cancer drug gemcitabine, will be the first anti-cancer ProTide to be taken into human studies in early 2012.  Gemcitabine is used to treat pancreatic cancer, but is effective in only about 10% of patients.  It is hoped that by preventing resistance from developing, NUC1031 will prove more effective, as shown already in the laboratory with cancer cells.  

NuCana intend to follow up with further anti-cancer ProTides later next year and will also assess effectiveness of each compound against other cancer types.   Their approach is to target specific patients whose cancers are resistant to some of the anti-cancer drugs in common use today. Adding the ProTide allows the cancer drugs to bypass the key pathways that make cancer cells resistant, and as such greatly extends their utility. NuCana’s first compound, a gemcitabine ProTide NUC1031, will enter clinical studies in early 2012, rapidly followed by two other ProTides.

 Professor Chris McGuigan, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the inventor of the ProTide technology, added: “The ProTide technology has been widely applied to anti-viral nucleosides, by companies such as Gilead, Pharmasset and Inhibitex, with dramatic improvement in efficacy and tolerability. NuCana's  focus on the anti-cancer nucleosides is very exciting and has the potential to dramatically improve the treatment options for millions of patients diagnosed with cancer”.


A current Powerpoint presentation from Prof McGuigan describing Pro Tides is available here. 


 NuCana was founded in 2008 in Edinburgh by CEO Hugh Griffith and Executive Chairman Chris Wood.   Between them they have over forty years experience developing new cancer drugs. 

Hugh Griffith, NuCana’s CEO, stated: “This financing is a very significant step forward for the Company because it will allow us to take a range of known cancer drugs, that we have improved by applying the ProTide technology, into clinical development. We are delighted to have attracted the support of such sophisticated healthcare investors with the ability to add considerable value to NuCana”.  

See also

 NuCana Biomed  company web-site


Prof Chris McGuigan

Position:Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
Staff Photo
Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 74537 Extension: 74537