Beactica Therapeutics AB, the Swedish drug discovery company, and University of Dundee, a top-ranked university in the UK for biological sciences, today announced a new research collaboration agreement. The two parties will work together in a project aimed at inhibiting WRN helicase, a protein with significant therapeutic potential for cancers with microsatellite instability.
The collaboration will leverage core capabilities of each partner and build on the work of Professor John Rouse, on the control of chromosome stability and DNA repair in cancer. Beactica will contribute key technical strengths in identifying and optimizing allosteric binders as well as evaluating ternary degradation complexes formed by PROTACs based on such binders. The collaboration will also benefit from top facilities and expertise available at Dundee, including the Drug Discovery Unit, headed by Prof. Paul Wyatt FRSE and the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit headed by Prof. Dario Alessi.
WRN (Werner syndrome helicase) is an enzyme required for DNA replication and DNA repair and a validated target for tumours with microsatellite instability (MSI+). “Microsatellites” are short tracts of repetitive nucleotide sequences prone to insertions/deletions during DNA replication. Normally these insertions/deletions are repaired by the mismatch repair pathway but failure to do so causes cancers with typical MSI+. MSI+ is found in ~20% of all colorectal cancers and is also found in endometrial, ovarian and gastric cancers. Inhibitors targeting WRN is expected to induce synthetic lethality in MSI+ tumours due to the protein@s essential role. The ability to readily identify MSI tumours enables a clear patient stratification path in the clinic.