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21 April, 2011 - 13:07 By Staff Reporter

Sentinel in Cambridge primed for extra funding

Stuart Travers

Cambridge Science Park company Sentinel Oncology is building a platform to raise further funding to underpin new areas of cancer research.

The company hopes to leverage milestone income from current collaborations and its technology is also seen as prime for a number of government-related grants.

But chief operating officer, Stuart Travers, said if the company needed to raise bigger tranches of cash it was in a position to do so.

“We’re always raising cash,” he said. “Our technology is very versatile and is considered suitable for a number of oncology areas, from leukaemia to brain tumours.

The Cambridge Enterprise portfolio company has just been awarded a development grant from the EU under the Eurostars funding framework to further explore new areas of cancer research, specifically leukaemia.

The grant will support the development of new pre-clinical molecules targeting DNA repair pathways and will ultimately lead to new treatments for common cancers such as breast, ovarian and glioblastoma.

Sentinel Oncology is focused on the discovery of novel treatments for cancer.

The project will focus on the development of small molecule CHK1 inhibitors for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and a corresponding diagnostic to accurately measure treatment response throughout the pre-clinical phase and in clinical trials.

Sentinel will collaborate on the project with Biovica, a Swedish-based company which specialises in the development of novel cancer diagnostics.

Biovica’s patented testing method, called DiviTum™, measures levels of the enzyme thymidine kinase in the blood and is able to, at a very early stage, detect abnormal cell division in the body, which can be a sign of cancer.

The test is also used for cancer patients, in particular to monitor the effect of cancer treatment. The technology shows great promise in not only leukaemia treatment but could be expanded to treat solid tumours in the future.

Approximately 2,000 new cases of AML are diagnosed each year in the UK. While AML can occur in people of any age group, incidence increases with age. As the average population age increases, AML incidence is likely to rise and new, safer and more effective treatments will become more important as a result.

Current drug treatments for AML suffer from poor efficacy and numerous unwanted side-effects. The search for new drugs and methods of determining efficacy is of great importance to clinicians and the general public.

Travers said: “We are delighted to partner with Biovica on such an important project. Being able to bring not only a new Sentinel Oncology product but an accompanying diagnostic developed by Biovica to the market will bring enormous benefits to both companies and to patients.”

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