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Posted: August 13, 2009

NCI leads effort to introduce more targeted cancer therapies as quickly as possible

(Nanowerk News) A team of scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central University, and the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences will be working with the National Cancer Institute as part of a national effort to bring more targeted cancer therapies to patients as quickly as possible.
The UNC-led team will participate in a national consortium to create an NCI cancer drug “pipeline” all the way from identifying potential drug targets through clinical trials in cancer patients. The team is called the North Carolina Chemical Biology Center (NC CBC).
Participants in the NC CBC include UNC’s Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, and North Carolina Central University’s Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE). The NC CBC is designated as one of five national comprehensive chemical biology screening centers.
The NC CBC team is led by Stephen Frye, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry and natural products, and director of the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Frye is also a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“What this consortium means to cancer patients is a collaboratively focused national effort to accelerate the identification of new anti-cancer drugs,” Frye said. “Already, targeted therapies for cancer, such as Herceptin, have proved that developing effective therapies is possible if focused on the right drug for the right biological target in the right patient,” Frye explained. “Our goal is to find those ‘right’ molecules and move them in an effective way through screening, testing, developing drug delivery systems, and, ultimately, designing a clinical trial to be carried out in the right patient.”
The NC CBC team will engage the expertise of numerous scientists to translate laboratory findings into clinical trials. Frye explained, “UNC has a great track record of discovery in tumor biology, so we can translate those discoveries through partnering between the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and NCCU for drug screening and medicinal chemistry, with the Nanotech group for targeted delivery, with researchers at LCCC for in vivo testing and finally with the Hamner Institutes for preclinical safety and other studies. “ The NCI consortium also brings significant expertise and we anticipate joint projects and collaborations with both the NCI and other participants in the national program.“
Frye was recruited to UNC through funding from the University Cancer Research Fund. The University Cancer Research Fund (UCRF) was established in 2007 by the N.C. General Assembly to promote discovery and then turn those discoveries into new ways to treat, find, and prevent cancer in North Carolina and beyond.
“Being selected for this contract demonstrates the value of the University Cancer Research Fund to North Carolina. I was recruited to UNC and established the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery with UCRF support. Our expertise, strong partnerships, and state support gave NCI confidence in our capabilities.”
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal Funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. NO1-CO-12400. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
Other consortium centers are: Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, CA; Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, AL; Emory University in Atlanta, GA; Georgetown University in Washington, DC; the University of Minnesota in St. Paul and Minneapolis; the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute; Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN; SRI International in Menlo Park, CA; and the University of California at San Francisco.
Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

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