The Kids’ Cancer Project is committed to supporting ground breaking science to discover better treatments and a cure for childhood cancers, despite the recent announcement that ATM-3507 (Anisina) will not progress to clinical trial.
The Kids’ Cancer Project has funded Professor Peter Gunning’s work since 1999 and were thrilled when, in 2014, his ground breaking research into anti-tropomyosins (ATMs) was deemed worthy of transitioning to a preclinical program with Novogen, an emerging oncology-focused biotechnology company based in Sydney.
Novogen have announced that despite a team of dedicated scientists working to bring Novogen’s Anisina to clinical trial due to unfavourable balance of preclinical results, toxicity, regulatory and commercial barriers to success that particular drug has now been abandoned.
Prof Gunning, who is named as an inventor on the patent that covers Anisina, has not lost hope. “We remain fundamentally confident that targeting tropomyosin is a sound approach to the development of new cancer therapies,” he said. “While this program has ultimately yielded mixed results, much has been learned that will no doubt help enormously to advance both the development of new ATM drugs and the basic science in this field."
Where it all started
In 1999, Prof Gunning and his research team at The University of New South Wales, Sydney, discovered a new class of drugs called anti-tropomyosins (ATMs), which force a cancer cell to self-destruct without impacting any of the healthy cells around it. The architecture of a cancer cell had long been a target of scientists seeking new cancer treatments. However, because the building blocks of a cancer cell mirror those of the heart and other muscles, all attempts to target cancer cells in this way had previously failed.
The protein tropomyosin, a building block in cancer cells, is sufficiently different from the building blocks used in heart and muscle cells can be safely targeted. Now, it’s just a matter of turning this incredible scientific discovering into a workable treatment.
“The idea that there is a research team in Australia working to develop new types of cancer drugs in a specific area of childhood cancer is remarkable. Unusual is probably a better word. This is an area of high risk,” Prof Gunning said. “But every study we do, builds learning for the next, and the next. Science is a long road with a lot of fine tuning along the way.”
Col Reynolds, the charity founder, said “I learned many years ago that scientific research is the only way we can help children overcome this indiscriminate disease. The Kids’ Cancer Project has been able to commit over $34 million into childhood cancer research since 1993. I’m very excited by the work that Professor Gunning and his team have done to date and will continue to do.”
Owen Finegan, The Kids’ Cancer Project CEO, commented on the ongoing support of this research and other studies like it. “The Kids’ Cancer Project is a strong, long-time supporter of the science behind Professor Gunning’s discovery. Our early support of bold research has the power of attracting national interest and we’re extremely gratified that Prof Gunning and his team have had success in securing Australian National Health and Medical Research Council funding and a recent Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) grant to enable the continuation of this important work.”
“The Kids’ Cancer Project has not funded any clinical trial support but will continue to support the area of ATM research into childhood cancers while unearthing other studies which will have the greatest impact. Our ultimate goal is to bring about one hundred per cent survival of children with cancer, minimising the harmful impacts of treatment and improving survivorship. Our investment in 27 research projects across 14 institutions is a testament to this commitment.”