Imperial College London

Collaboration could help botanic compound tackle breast cancer and stroke

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Woman getting a breast scan

Researchers at Imperial are teaming up with a company testing a synthetic version of the compound sulforaphane, to see if they can expand its use.

Sulforaphane is a plant-derived compound that is thought to have many beneficial effects in the body. However, when ingested in vegetable such as broccoli, sulforaphane is quickly broken down and does not last long enough in the body to have an impact.

Evgen Pharma, a clinical stage drug development company, has produced a special formulation of sulforaphane, called SFX-01, which allows it to last long enough to reach sites of disease and take effect. They are currently testing the compound in patients with resistant breast cancer and a particular type of stroke.

We welcome the opportunity to work with Professor Tate whose innovations in the field of chemical proteomics provide the opportunity to improve our knowledge of SFX-01’s mechanism of action in cancer and neurology. Steve Franklin CEO of Evgen Pharma

Evgen have now signed an agreement with Professor Ed Tate, from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, to investigate in detail how SFX-01 works. By studying cell cultures and samples from ongoing clinical trials, Professor Tate will attempt to determine what mechanisms in the cells SFX-01 targets, and how it produces positive effects.

SFX-01 is currently in Phase II clinical trials for metastatic breast cancers that are resistant to hormone treatment. Professor Tate’s team recently published research showing SFX-01 targets a specific gene active in breast cancers of this type. Previous studies in animal models suggests that SFX-01 can wipe out cells that give rise to resistance by targeting this gene.

Professor Tate said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with Evgen Pharma on this exciting project, which will build on the work that we published last year on the first comprehensive and quantitative analysis of the direct targets of sulforaphane in breast cancer cells.’’

The drug is also in clinical trials for treating haemorrhage after one type of stroke, because it is thought to reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory properties could also make it useful for treating diseases like arthritis and even autism. Studies of its detailed action could lead to the identification of new illnesses and new patients that could benefit from SFX-01.

The project is being funded principally by an EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account grant and will be led by Professor Tate, whose research interests at Imperial include chemical proteomics, medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. Evgen Pharma will supply SFX-01 and make a modest financial contribution.

Steve Franklin, CEO of Evgen Pharma, said: ‘’We welcome the opportunity to work with Professor Tate whose innovations in the field of chemical proteomics provide the opportunity to improve our knowledge of SFX-01’s mechanism of action in cancer and neurology. Meanwhile, we look forward to our first Phase II clinical data from SFX-01 in breast cancer in the first half of this year.”

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Hayley Dunning

Hayley Dunning
Communications and Public Affairs

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 2412
Email: h.dunning@imperial.ac.uk

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