Cloud Pharmaceuticals, a Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based therapeutics company focused on cloud-based drug design and development, and the University of Florida’s department of medicine have announced an academic collaboration to help rapidly design and develop novel drugs to inhibit the reproduction of cancer cells.
The collaboration, which will allow the two organizations to share intellectual property and jointly fund 10 research projects, already has resulted in the design of multiple novel inhibitors of the MTH1 protein, an enzyme required for cancer cell proliferation. These new compounds will target a broad range of cancers, including ovarian, breast, colon and pancreatic cancers.
“We are thrilled about possibilities of this collaboration, because each party is contributing unique skills and research capabilities,” said Dr. Robert Hromas, chair of the department of medicine in the University of Florida College of Medicine, part of University of Florida Health. “The excellent progress made on our first project is exciting and opens up many new possibilities.”
Cloud Pharmaceuticals used its computer-based drug design process, Quantum Molecular Design, to rapidly generate potential inhibitors with strong drug-like properties for the MTH1 protein. MTH1 has been identified as a target for anticancer strategies, because inhibition of MTH1 in cancerous cells eventually results in DNA damage and cell death. MTH1 is less essential for normal cells, so blocking it does not cause the same kinds of side effects seen in many cancer therapies. This makes it an excellent target for therapeutic inhibitors. Combining MTH1 inhibitors with other chemotherapeutic agents could result in far greater efficacy in cancer treatment than chemotherapy alone.
The University of Florida is further developing the MTH1 inhibitors, including synthesis, assays and preclinical research. Together, Cloud Pharmaceuticals and the UF Department of Medicine will seek an oncology drug developer for late-stage preclinical research and clinical trials upon its success.
“Designing new drugs that bind to a specified protein target requires finding the best molecule in a vast virtual chemical space. Our approach searches this space much more efficiently and cost-effectively than traditional methods,” said Ed Addison, CEO of Cloud Pharmaceuticals. “The process results in the ability to identify novel drug candidates that exhibit low probability of toxic side effects, high freedom to operate and high probability of success.”