Singapore-French Pharma Collaborate To Target Cancer Stem Cells
A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network has inked a research collaboration agreement with French pharma company Servier.
AsianScientist (Apr. 6, 2011) – A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) has inked a Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA) with French pharmaceutical company Servier.
The collaboration aims to develop anti-cancer drugs to suppress tumor-initiating cells (TICs), often called cancer stem cells. By targeting TICs, scientists hope to be able to prevent relapse and metastatic outgrowth in cancer patients.
Studies have shown that TICs can be shed from primary tumors and remain dormant for prolonged periods of time. As conventional chemotherapy only targets actively dividing cells, ‘sleeping’ TICs that escape standard chemotherapy become dangerous “seeds of metastasis,” with the potential of being triggered to proliferate uncontrollably.
Under this three-year partnership, SIgN and Servier aim to develop drugs directed at restricting the growth of TICs in breast cancer – the most common cancer in women all over the world , and also in Singapore with about 1,100 new cases diagnosed each year .
These drugs are TIC-specific human monoclonal antibodies, which are more potent and effective than conventional drugs because of their highly selective and specific binding to the disease target.
Associate Professor Jean-Pierre Abastado, Principal Investigator of SIgN, will head the lab for this SIgN-Servier collaboration.
“Scientists and clinicians have been trying to understand why cancer relapse occurs in spite of the removal of the primary tumor. Basic research conducted at SIgN has shown that cancer relapse could potentially be avoided by controlling TICs. Our task at hand is to discover the monoclonal antibodies that will target these TICs,” Dr. Abastado said.
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