The Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund is making its ninth investment in a project aiming to develop a new class of therapies for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma - a sub-type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).
The £70 million Fund - created by CRT, Cancer Research UK's commercial arm, and the European Investment Fund (EIF) - was set up in 2012 to help plug the gap in financial backing of discovery and early-stage cancer projects, to help fuel the development of novel therapies in the UK.
CR UK-funded scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, targeting a protein called B-cell Lymphoma 6 (BCL6), which plays an important role in maintaining levels of antibody-secreting B-cells in the blood and forms an essential part of the immune system, are the latest to benefit from it.
Research shows that BCL6 is overactive in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and that this helps fuel growth of cancer cells, suggesting that inhibition of the protein could offer a means of treating the disease.
Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, noted that current therapies "have serious side effects and many patients relapse," and stressed the need for "innovative new ways of treating the disease to give patients their best chance of overcoming it".
"The support from the CRT Pioneer Fund will help us to make progress with this challenging project, with the aim of designing a whole new class of potential cancer drugs that target BCL6 - a protein that is crucial for the cancer's rapid progression."
Investment from the Fund "will pave the way for potential new cancer drugs to be developed and taken into Phase I clinical trials," added Ian Miscampbell, managing partner of Sixth Element Capital LLP.
NHL affects around 13,400 people in the UK each year and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common form, accounting for around 40 percent of cases.