Domainex Ltd., the UK-based drug discovery company focused on speed and innovation, has been awarded a £250,000 grant by the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s national innovation agency – to help support the development of a new drug for the treatment of several common cancers.
Domainex’s novel drug will work by inhibiting two closely-related protein kinase enzymes, TBK1 and IKKε. Recent studies carried out by academic groups and by Domainex have shown that blocking these protein kinases will stop certain cancer cell lines from growing, suggesting that inhibitors of these enzymes can be used for the treatment of cancer. Furthermore, these enzymes are also important in some inflammatory diseases, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes: and so Domainex’s drug could have exciting wider applications.
Domainex’s initial attention will be focused on breast and ovarian cancers. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Every year it affects over a million women worldwide and is the leading cause of death for women aged 40-44. The five-year survival rate for Stage V cancer patients (advanced disease progression) is just 16%. Ovarian cancer is rarely diagnosed in its early stages and is usually quite advanced by the time diagnosis is made, resulting in poor prognoses. The five-year survival rate for all stages is only 35% to 38%.
Domainex’s Research Director, Trevor Perrior, said: “A TBK1/IKKε inhibitor would have a significant impact on patients with breast, ovarian and possibly other cancers, leading to a better quality of life, and improved survival rates. The novel mode of action will allow the treatment of patients with drug-resistant triple-negative tumours which are of increasing importance in the clinic.”
Domainex’s TBK1/IKKe programme has already identified potent, selective and drug-like inhibitors. These inhibitors have been shown to be effective in inhibiting several cancer cell lines. Domainex’s research objective is to identify a Candidate Drug that is effective in disease models and would be orally well-absorbed by humans. The subsequent commercialization of this new drug would be undertaken in partnership with a large pharmaceutical company which has the resources to take the drug through clinical trials and to the marketplace.
The CEO of Domainex, Eddy Littler, commented: “Domainex is presently a leader in this field. The funding of this proposal will allow Domainex to recruit a number of scientists, preserving highly-skilled drug discovery jobs in the UK. Given recent trends in the pharmaceutical industry it is very likely that the future of drug research in this country will be based largely upon the success and growth of biotechnology companies such as Domainex. We thank the TSB for its support.”