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CRT lets Aura use its cancer-targeting peptides

Cancer Research UK

Cancer-targeting peptides

Aura Biosciences will use Cancer Research Technology's (CRT) cancer-targeting peptides as a result of being granted a licence.

These peptides bind to a protein on the surface of the cell called integrin avb6, a protein complex found in high levels on many tumour cells but absent in most normal tissues.

By seeking out this protein and binding to it, the peptides can deliver cancer treatments directly to the site with increased precision and reduced side effects.

One of the cancers this could have particular benefit in targeting is pancreatic cancer, as these tumours express high levels of integrin avb6.

Pancreatic cancer is currently very difficult to treat, with only around two to three per cent of patients surviving the disease for five years or more.

Recent pre-clinical studies have also shown that these peptides may improve imaging in pancreatic cancer by binding to the avb6.

This deal builds on an evaluation agreement earlier this year between Aura and CRT, Cancer Research UK's commercialisation and development arm.

The peptides were originally developed at Queen Mary, University of London with support from Cancer Research UK and DebRA - which work on behalf of people in the UK with the genetic skin-blistering condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

Under the terms of the agreement, Aura Biosciences will make an upfront payment to CRT and will provide clinical-development milestones and royalties on future sales.

Aura will exclusively fund the development work and will have sub-licensing rights on agreed terms.

'This partnership with CRT enables us to make use of its peptide technology as a way to deliver our Nanosmart treatment particles - hollow particles made of nano-sized protein shells - to the tumour with increased accuracy,' said Dr Elisabet de los Pinos, chief executive of Aura Biosciences.

Dr Phil L'Huillier, director of business management for CRT, said: 'These peptides - combined with Aura's nanotechnology - have the potential to seek out and destroy cancer cells, leaving the surrounding areas unharmed.

'We believe this technology could have particular strengths in delivering treatments for cancers that have limited treatment options, such as pancreatic and head and neck cancer.

'Crucially this targeted treatment could also reduce the side effects that are commonly associated with standard therapies,' he added.

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