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Innovation in Healthcare Award

1 June 2016

Researchers in the lab

A partnership which is developing a new drug for metastatic breast cancer has won the Innovation in Healthcare honour at Cardiff University’s Innovation and Impact Awards 2016.

The venture, led by a joint team from the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute and School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff, combined academic expertise in drug development and cancer biology together with experience of restructuring biotechnology companies.

The project originated from a PhD study of mammary gland development in the University’s School of Biosciences, where a team in the Clarkson laboratory identified the oncogene Bcl3 as a potential regulator of metastasis.

The lab then collaborated with Dr Andrea Brancale and Dr Andrew Westwell of the University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to design and develop a novel inhibitor of Bcl3 for use as an anti-cancer agent.

By 2013 the team had identified a small molecule inhibitor of Bcl3, which the Clarkson lab showed to possess potent anti-cancer properties for breast and colorectal metastatic cancer.

The team then approached biotech entrepreneur Gabriele Cerrone to discuss commercial investment, and a new biotechnology company - Tiziana Life Sciences Plc – was founded.

Launched on the AIM market at the London Stock Exchange in April 2014, it currently has a market capitalization of around £150M.

Dr Richard Clarkson, Senior Lecturer of cancer research in the School of Biosciences, said: “We are delighted to win this Award, which recognises the team’s dedication and hard work in developing this new form of treatment. This is the first novel targeted agent with anti-cancer stem cell properties to be developed from lab bench to bedside in the UK. It is at the forefront of a new era of anti-metastatic agents to be championed in clinical trials – and is the first anti-cancer agent to be identified, developed, verified and due to be clinically tested in Wales, with funding from the UK commercial sector and Welsh government.”

Gabriele Cerrone, Chairman of Tiziana Life Sciences Plc, said: “Work on this project helped us to cement our relationship with Cardiff University and drive forward the new field of cancer stem cell therapeutics. This Award showcases the great work being done at Cardiff to identify inhibitors which can be developed into novel drugs for cancers.”

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