Stem Cell Therapeutics (SCT), a biopharmaceutical company developing cancer stem cell-related therapeutics, has entered into an option agreement to exclusively license worldwide rights to a series of prostate cancer stem cell assets from the University of York, U.K. The assets originate from research funded by and conducted at Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR) under the direction of professor Norman Maitland.
"This agreement provides Stem Cell Therapeutics with an opportunity to evaluate several highly promising therapeutic targets, all of which are expressed on prostate cancer stem cells, as well as on other types of cancers," said Dr. Bob Uger, SCT's chief scientific officer. "Much of the YCR's research is focused on hypothesis testing using multicellular in vitro models and xenograft in vivo models of tumor development/metastasis. We will extend this research into the generation of monoclonal antibodies to these targets, with an ultimate goal of identifying new therapeutic development candidates."
Maitland's research group is focused on the development and aetiology of human prostate cancer. The group has compiled gene expression profiles for various cell types present in prostate tumors and in normal prostate tissue, and has mined these data for genes and signaling pathways that affect cell fate. This has demonstrated that heterogeneity within human prostate cancers is due to two independent events: carcinogenic changes and aberrant differentiation. The Maitland group has identified novel avenues for treatment which could delay, or even prevent, tumor recurrence.
"This commercial partnership should be the ultimate outcome for all charity-supported cancer research. We plan to exploit more than 10 years of research into prostate cancer stem cells in York to develop new treatments for the benefit of patients here and around the world," said Maitland. "Our approach has studied fragments of real tumors donated by men with prostate cancer, and has provided insights into how the stem cells work, and more importantly, how we can kill them. With the collaboration and expertise of SCT, we can produce the actual drugs and biological agents to achieve our goal."