Cancer Research Technology, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, has entered into a multi-project, multi-year pact with Isreali group Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to develop first-in-class drugs for cancer.

The companies will focus their efforts on drugs that modulate DNA damage and repair response (DDR) processes in cancer cells, which help protect them from the harmful effects of chemotherapy by creating an in-built antidote to their toxic effects.

Surviving the DNA damage caused by cancer therapies allows cancer cells to replicate, naturally selecting for the mutation that gives superior repair capabilities, which leads to disease recurrence and resistance to treatment.

CR UK and CRT have already established a hub of expertise in DDR-related basic, translational, and clinical research across the UK, providing the foundations for the alliance with Teva to develop novel therapies based on DDR-related targets.  

"This research collaboration will build on our understanding of how cells repair DNA damage, help us identify possible points of therapeutic intervention, and lead us onto a pathway to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients," said Michael Hayden, President, Teva Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer.

Under the deal, CRT will cherry pick new molecular targets from CR UK’s portfolio of biological research in DDR, which will be validated and progressed to the early stages of drug discovery in CRT’s Discovery Laboratories. CRT and Teva will then jointly undertake chemical lead generation activities. 

Specific financial details were kept under wraps, but it was disclosed that CRT will receive research funding from Teva and stands to receive milestone payments and royalties on any projects that advance through the Isaraeli group's pipeline.