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Giulio Superti-Furga and Kilian Huber at CeMM Win GlaxoSmithKline’s European Discovery Fast Track Challenge to Investigate a New Anti-Cancer Drug Targeting MTH1


Giulio Superti-Furga, Scientific Director and Kilian Huber, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, have been selected as winners of GlaxoSmithKline plc’s (GSK) 2014 European Discovery Fast Track Challenge, which is designed to accelerate the translation of academic research into novel therapies. CeMM will partner with scientists in GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) and Molecular Discovery Research (MDR) teams to screen the target against GSK’s compound collection. Active compounds could then form the basis of full drug discovery programmes that may ultimately lead to innovative medicines for cancer. 

The project is one of nine challenge winners, chosen from 232 entries across 24 European countries. Research between CeMM and GSK will focus on a new drug which prevents tumour growth by inhibiting the nucleotide pool sanitizing enzyme MTH1.

"We are very happy to see our studies carried on in the fast track programme together with GSK. It is really a rare stroke of luck that in our underlying studies we have not only found a previously unknown sore spot of aggressive cancers, but that by chance we simultaneously identified a chemical substance that is a mirror image of one of the best new anticancer agents in the clinic."

Launched in the U.K. in late 2010, DPAc is a new approach to drug discovery that enables academics to marry their scientific excellence with the drug discovery insight of GSK.  For projects that progress to full DPAc programmes, GSK and the academic partner share the risk and reward of innovation; GSK funds activities in the partner laboratories and provides in-kind resources to progress a programme from idea to candidate medicine. Currently GSK has ten active DPAc collaborations in ten disease areas, of which six are with academics based in European institutes.