K-Ras is the most commonly mutated oncogene in human cancers, with about 30% of all cancers harbouring activating rasmutations. Furthermore, cancers with a high prevalence of K-Ras mutations, such as lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, are difficult to treat and clinical outcomes are poor even with aggressive medical interventions. Despite more than 20 years of research by industry and academia, K-Ras has proven highly difficult to target and no effective therapy currently exists.
Nathanael Gray, Ph.D., of the Cancer Biology Department at Dana-Farber and professor at Harvard Medical School, will lead this collaborative research. Astellas has an option to obtain from Dana-Farber an exclusive, worldwide license to novel K-Ras inhibitors obtained from the research collaboration, and upon exercise of the option, would conduct further preclinical research and development on such K-Ras inhibitors, and subsequent clinical development and commercialization.
Gray's laboratory and the Dana-Farber Medicinal Chemistry Core will be joined by the laboratories of Pasi A. Jänne, M.D., Ph.D., and Kwok-Kin Wong, M.D., Ph.D. of the Thoracic Oncology Program and co-directors of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber and professors at Harvard Medical School.