Drug Discovery Program

  • Research Institute: Children's Cancer Institute of Australia

  • Amount granted: $0.5 million

  • Year granted: 2001

The grant was awarded for the establishment of a state-of-the-art chemistry laboratory purpose built for the development of new anti-cancer drugs.

Prof. Hogg and his team have developed a novel anti-cancer drug called GSAO that will be tested in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial in cancer patients early in 2006. A new biotechnology company, Cystemix Pty. Ltd., has been formed to manage the scientific and commercial development of this drug. The drug and its analogues are protected by four international patents.
The development of GSAO followed from research that led to a new understanding of how proteins work. A protein often contains strong bonds between pairs of cysteine amino acids in the polypeptide chain. These links are called disulphide-bonds because they join the sulphur atoms of the cysteine residues. They can be thought of as struts that stabilise the polypeptide backbone.

The prevailing view is that disulphide-bonds exist to help hold proteins together, but that they are otherwise inert. Prof Hogg has shown that some disulphide-bonds can break or form in a way that has major consequences for protein function. This discovery that disulphide-bonds can be switches for protein function is a new paradigm in biology and the indications are that it may be relevant to all life forms.

GSAO and its analogues represent a new class of anti-cancer drugs that in principle should be effective against all types of solid tumours. The ACRF Drug Discovery Laboratory will be dedicated to making new and better GSAO-like compounds. These compounds will then be trialled in cancer patients with the help of companies like Cystemix Pty. Ltd.

Director of Research: Prof Philip Hogg

Other ACRF grants awarded to Children's Cancer Institute of Australia
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