November 29, 2018

Therapeutic Innovation Awards Announced

In partnership with the Chordoma Foundation, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Therapeutic Innovation Awards.

Jointly launched earlier this year, this award program is designed to support innovative research projects aimed at discovering the first drugs that target brachyury, a protein believed to be the Achilles’ heel of chordoma and a driver of metastasis in many other cancers.

Many outstanding applications were received from a global pool of top-tier candidates. After a rigorous peer-review process, three high-impact projects were selected for funding:

  • PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeras (PROTACs) for the targeted degradation of brachyury
    Attempting to eliminate brachyury by harnessing the innate cellular system for destroying faulty proteins – a process called protein degradation. Investigator: Craig Crews, PhD – Yale University
  • A structure-guided drug discovery pipeline for direct brachyury inhibitors
    Developing a high-resolution map of the physical structure of the brachyury protein and constructing drugs based on identifying small chemical structures (“chemical fragments”) that interface with subtle features in the protein. Investigators: Opher Gileadi, PhD – Oxford University; David Drewry, PhD – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Charles Lin, PhD – Baylor College of Medicine
  • Chemoproteomic platforms to develop a brachyury inhibitor
    Employing novel chemistry techniques to discover molecules that bind strongly and irreversibly to the brachyury protein, providing a foothold for constructing compounds that either directly inhibit brachyury’s function or PROTACs to trigger its degradation. This work will be performed in the context of a broader ASPIRE project funded by The Mark Foundation to target “undruggable” proteins implicated in cancer. Investigator: Dan Nomura, PhD – University of California, Berkeley

Funded by The Mark Foundation, these one-year awards will be administered by the Chordoma Foundation which will also provide in-kind support including access to disease models and preclinical evaluation of candidate compounds through their Drug Screening Program.