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SRI Biosciences, Stanford Cancer Institute launch drug discovery program

The SRI Biosciences-Stanford Drug Discovery and Development Program was created in response to a significant drop in the early pipeline of innovative new drugs.

Beverly Mitchell

A new collaborative program between scientists at SRI Biosciences, a division of SRI International, and physician-researchers from the Stanford Cancer Institute will pursue development of novel compounds to treat multiple forms of cancer and other conditions.

The SRI Biosciences-Stanford Drug Discovery and Development Program was created in response to a significant drop in the early pipeline for the development of new drugs, and builds on a history of partnerships among investigators from both institutions. The combined basic research, drug discovery and drug development expertise of researchers from SCI and SRI Biosciences has advanced numerous projects, and the new program adds structure, support and coordination to such efforts.

Previous collaborations have yielded therapeutic candidates, including Tirapazamine, an experimental anticancer drug discovered by SRI and SCI investigators and brought to phase-3 clinical trials. Several other SRI-SCI developed compounds are undergoing preclinical testing.

Recently, Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological science at Stanford, and Mary Tanga, PhD, SRI Biosciences director of medicinal and synthetic chemistry, jointly discovered and developed a small molecule agonist of the TGF-beta signaling pathway for Alzheimer’s disease. The new agent has moved through preclinical development and is continuing into clinical trials.

“The SCI-SRI Biosciences collaboration provides a fully integrated engine for taking ideas to the investigational new drug stage and beyond,” said Nathan Collins, PhD, executive director of the pharmaceutical and chemical technologies section of SRI Biosciences. “Our focus is on developing first-in-class drugs and delivering improved outcomes for patients.”

The program brings together teams of multidisciplinary scientists in both discovery and refinement of novel compounds and targets, and it provides access to the critical scientific infrastructure necessary for disease mechanism understanding and target discovery, and drug discovery and development through clinical safety and proof of concept.

“Advances in genomic and molecular analysis of individual patients and their cancers are creating new therapeutic opportunities,” said Beverly Mitchell, MD, director of the Stanford Cancer Institute. “We are excited to work with the skilled SRI Biosciences researchers to enhance our drug development efforts.”

The program will be co-led by Sanjay Malhotra, PhD, associate professor of radiation oncology at Stanford, and Collins. Together they will coordinate and support a diverse and evolving group of investigators and technical experts to advance promising projects.

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