A new online way of quickly prioritizing the best druggable cancer targets has successfully identified 46 previously overlooked targets. The research, funded by Cancer Research UK, was published in the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.

The online approach used the canSAR database along with a tool that is able to compare up to 500 drug targets within minutes. The method was developed by researchers at Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Therapeutics Unit at The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

This method allows researchers to analyze large volumes of data to discover new drug targets, which leads to the development of new cancer drugs.

The study involved analyzing a list of 479 cancer genes to see which ones were potentially druggable. The approach was shown to be very effective, with a total of 46 new potentially druggable cancer proteins identified.

Lead researcher, Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani, said:

“To find so many overlooked potential new targets for cancer treatments in one project is very surprising. These results show that, using this new approach, we can find targets for cancer drugs in a smarter and faster way than ever before. This new way of harnessing genomic data is a key step towards the discovery of the next generation of cancer treatments. It is a stepping stone between research into the fundamental causes of cancer and new drugs delivering benefits to patients.”

The scientists believe that this new approach will help drive development of new cancer drugs. By effectively selecting the very best targets, the approach will lead to the production of only the most successful drugs. It will also enable scientists to develop new medications at a much lower price.

According to Professor Paul Workman, director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and deputy chief executive at The Institute of Cancer Research:

“Our new approach will help researchers worldwide to address three major issues that we face today in developing new cancer drugs for personalised medicine. Firstly, it will empower scientists to select the very best targets that are most likely to lead to successful drugs, thereby increasing the success rate in the clinic. Secondly, it will allow researchers to discover the best new drugs much more quickly and at a lower cost. Thirdly, it will enhance innovation, by helping shift the focus away from the tried and tested drug targets while managing the inevitable risk associated with moving into new and exciting areas. Both patients and the pharmaceutical industry will benefit from these advances.”

The new resource will help scientists develop strategies to choose the best gene targets, ones that may have previously been overlooked. This will save time in the development of new drugs.

Scientists are finding various ways to fuel future cancer treatment. At the Scripps Research Institutes, researchers found a way to take cancer head on by improving a powerful tool in disease defense. Scientists from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, England, say that toxins in snake venom could eventually become active ingredients in novel cancer drugs.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist