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24 June 2005: Cancer research benefits from Scottish Executive awards



Cancer research at three UK institutions is to benefit from the latest Proof of Concept awards announced by Scottish Enterprise.

The scheme, set up by Scotland's main economic development agency, and funded by the Scottish Executive, helps scientists in universities, research institutes and NHS Boards to move commercially useful ideas arising from basic research towards the market place.  

Projects, funded for up to two years, can lead to licensing deals, institute spin-out companies, or new, high growth start-up businesses.   The awards are typically made after a background patent has been filed, but before full laboratory scale demonstration or pre-production development.

Work on technical advances in cancer chemotherapy, and development of novel anti-tumour agents are among the 26 new projects.  

John Hayes' team at the University of Dundee has identified chemicals that block the breakdown of drugs in the body.   His award will be used to show that the inhibitory mechanism is effective in overcoming cancer cells' resistance to chemotherapy.  

Breast cancer tumours vary in sensitivity to the 15 drugs commonly used in treatment, but methods to select the most appropriate chemotherapy for individual patients are imprecise.   A laser based chemical analysis that rapidly identifies the molecular components of tumours indicative of drug sensitivity is being developed by Alistair Elfick at the University of Edinburgh.    

Factors naturally present in mammary tissue that could potentially kill breast cancer cells have been isolated by Colin Wilde of the Hannah Research Institute, Ayr.   His project aims to demonstrate their effectiveness in treating mammary tumour growth.

Mel Anderson, Business Development Manager at Glasgow University, who has provided commercial support to several Proof of Concept projects said, 'the scheme is a highly effective mechanism for bridging the gap between academic and business environments.   It allows us to focus on the opening stages of realising the commercial potential of academic research.' Russ Clare