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CTCR researcher Dr Allan Gamble of Pharmacy has received Health Research Council funding for an Emerging Researcher First Grant to investigate bioorthogonal prodrug activation for targeted chemotherapy.

As currently used chemotherapy drugs are non-selective, they kill healthy cells as well as tumour cells. This HRC funded project will focus on masking known anti-cancer drugs into being inactive prodrugs. These will then be unmasked at the target site.

Unlike other prodrugs which slowly release active drug distant from the tumour, Dr Gamble's approach will enable control over when, where, and how much active drug is released by using a 'two-drug' activation strategy. Firstly, the activating molecule, which is targeted to a tumour-specific receptor, will be administered. The prodrug will then be given, and only when it encounters the tumour-bound activator will the tumour-killing drug be released.

This represents a new technology in tumour-targeted drug delivery by using a bioorthogonal chemical reaction that occurs only between the prodrug and its activator, providing complete tumour-selectivity. The pre-clinical data from this project will be used to evaluate the potential of this technology in the clinic.

Read the full University of Otago media release:
Major funding for innovative health research 9 June 2014, University of Otago website

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