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Milestone Payment for Hsp90 Programme


Monday 11 December 2006


Cancer Research Technology Ltd (CRT), the oncology-focused development and commercialisation company and The Institute of Cancer Research (The Institute), Europe’s leading cancer research centre, today announce that they are to receive a milestone payment from Vernalis Plc (Vernalis) following the selection of a second preclinical development candidate by Vernalis’ partner Novartis in their Hsp90 drug discovery programme.


The Hsp90 programme originates from a collaboration established in March 2002 between Vernalis, CRT and The Institute following studies funded by The Institute, Cancer Research UK and Wellcome Trust. Under the terms of the agreement, CRT and The Institute will receive development-related milestones, and royalty payments following successful commercialisation of the programme.


This second preclinical development candidate, which is an orally available compound, was identified using Vernalis' fragment-based drug discovery platform. The first preclinical candidate, an intravenous compound, was derived from studies at The Institute led by Professor Paul Workman at the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics and in which Professor Laurence Pearl's team in the Section of Structural Biology also played a key role. Scientists at both Vernalis and The Institute have collaborated in lead optimisation of the first intravenous and the second oral series.


Dr Phil L’Huillier, Director of Business Management at CRT said, "The excellent progress made within the Hsp90 programme reflects the success of combining outstanding academic and industrial expertise."


Professor Paul Workman said, "We are excited about the prospects for Hsp90 inhibitors because these will simultaneously block many of the important processes that are essential to cancer cells. Thus Hsp90 drugs have potential for broad activity across many tumour types and should minimize the opportunity for drug resistance to develop."


Professor Paul Workman will be speaking about The Institute’s oncology research programmes on Monday December 11th at the Genesis 2006 Biotechnology Networking Conference, DTI Conference Centre, Westminster, London.


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Notes to editors:


About Hsp90

  • Inhibition of Hsp90 is believed to have significant potential in the treatment of a broad range of cancers. The scientific rationale for Hsp90 as a therapeutic cancer target is based on the hypothesis that many of the signalling proteins that behave aberrantly in cancer cells require Hsp90 as a chaperone molecule to ensure that they are maintained in an active form. In addition, many of the proteins stabilized by Hsp90 are oncoproteins and cell-signalling proteins important in cancer cell proliferation and cancer cell survival. Thus Hsp90, a single molecular target that is a central integrator of multiple pathways important to cancer, is an ideal novel target for oncologic therapy.


About The Institute of Cancer Research

  • The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Website at:
  • The Institute works in a unique partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, forming the largest Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Europe. This relationship enables close daily contact with those on the frontline in the fight against cancer - the clinicians, the carers and most importantly, the patients.
  • The Institute is a charity that relies on voluntary income. The Institute is one of the world’s most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with over 90p in every £ directly supporting research.


About Cancer Research Technology Limited

  • Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRT) is an oncology-focused development and commercialisation company that realises cancer patient benefit from publicly- funded research worldwide. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists, their institutes and funding bodies to protect, develop and commercialise oncology-related discoveries. CRT is wholly owned by Cancer Research UK, the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world. Further information about CRT can be found at


About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is Europe's leading cancer charity, dedicated to research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer. The charity supports the work of 3,000 scientists, doctors and nurses in over 80 academic centres across the UK, with an annual scientific spend of more than £257 million. Cancer Research UK is the European leader in the development of novel anti-cancer treatments; from their discovery at the laboratory bench to early clinical trials in cancer patients. Further information about Cancer Research UK can be found at


About Vernalis

  • Vernalis is a speciality bio-pharmaceutical company focused on products marketed to specialist neurologists. The company has two marketed products, Frova® and Apokyn®, and a development pipeline focused on neurology and central nervous system disorders. The company has seven products in clinical development and collaborations with leading, global pharmaceutical companies including Novartis, Biogen Idec and Serono. Vernalis has established a US commercial operation to promote Apokyn® and co-promote Frova® alongside its North American licensing partner, Endo Pharmaceuticals, progressing the company towards its goal of becoming a sustainable, self-funding, R&D-driven, speciality bio-pharmaceutical company. For further information about Vernalis, please visit:


About The Wellcome Trust

  • The Wellcome Trust is the largest independent medical research charity in the UK and the second largest in the world. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £500 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust is committed to public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing. For more information about The Wellcome Trust please visit:


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