New consortium to investigate epigenetics and metabolic disorders

Posted on December 8th 2011

CellCentric joins a group of leading academic researchers around the world to investigate epigenetic mechanisms underlying diabetes. CellCentric is the sole commercial partner to a new consortium being funded by the European Union. The collaboration may yield new targets for small molecule therapeutics.

CellCentric, the biotechnology company unlocking epigenetic control mechanisms, has increased its links with leading academic researchers to drive novel drug discovery.

CellCentric’s primary focus is oncology, in particular prostate, breast and colon cancer. It has four active early stage small molecule programmes. This new consortium expands the company’s leading epigenetic mechanistic understanding to other areas associated with epigenetic loss of cell fate control.

An award of €3m from the European Union (FP7) will fund research involving groups in Australia, Japan, India, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Singapore and across Europe. The consortium is led by Dr John Chambers and Prof Jaspal Kooner of Imperial College London.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes radically increases as migrants move to urban centres, and from East to West. The prevalence of diabetes is rising steadily and there is a clear need for new ways to treat the disease. It is known that epigenetic mechanisms play a key role within associated changes in cellular metabolism. The new work will examine key pathways to identify how the changes are caused and aims to yield new targets for novel therapeutics

Commenting on the new consortium, CellCentric’s Research Director, Dr Neil Pegg said ‘Epigenetics is an area of biology that is providing the pharmaceutical industry with the next wave of exciting small molecule drug discovery targets. This collaboration enables us to potentially apply CellCentric’s expertise beyond oncology into other areas. We are delighted to be collaborating with so many international world leaders in diabetes.’

Dr John Chambers of Imperial College London added ‘Through this new funding, we are very pleased to be able to bring together access to patient samples from around the world, with the right basic research, clinical and commercial expertise.’

Epigenetics

Epigenetics concerns the processes that help control cell fate by modulating the structure and function of chromatin (DNA and its associated proteins). This is an important emerging field of biology which is helping to understand the mechanisms behind multiple intractable diseases, primarily cancer, but including metabolic disorders and immune-inflammatory diseases. Multiple unexplored targets are being discovered which are appropriate to novel small molecule drug discovery and the generation of new drugs to significantly change how many diseases can be treated.

About CellCentric

CellCentric is an innovation company focused on epigenetics. The company’s business model, based on relationships with a global network of tied leading researchers, gives CellCentric a clear advantage in delivering the next wave of epigenetic therapeutic opportunities. The company identifies novel cellular mechanisms and targets that it prioritises and takes into small molecule drug discovery. Active programmes include inhibitors to histone methyltransferases, histone demethylases and epigenetic enzymes that act via ubiquitin. Each programme benefits from on-going input from the leading researchers in the field.

CellCentric was founded in 2004 with Prof Azim Surani of the University of Cambridge.