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A global, interdisciplinary team of researchers, including the Centre for Medicines Discovery’s Professor Frank von Delft, has been selected to receive a Cancer Grand Challenges award of up to $25m over five years to tackle the solid tumours in children challenge. The Cancer Grand Challenges PROTECT team is led by Professor Stefan Pfister of the Hopp Children's Cancer Center in Heidelberg.

The Cancer Grand Challenges PROTECT team

Cancer remains a leading cause of death due to disease among children globally, and outcomes for some childhood cancers have not improved in more than 30 years. Treatments for solid tumours in children still rely on decades-old chemotherapies, and often radiotherapy. The PROTECT team will use protein degradation strategies to target previously undruggable drivers of children’s cancers. Potential drugs that could emerge from these programmes could revolutionise the field and transform the lives of those affected by that particular cancer type.

Cancer Grand Challenges is a global funding platform, co-founded by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute in the US, that supports a community of diverse, global teams to come together, think differently and take on some of cancer’s toughest challenges.

The PROTECT Team unites clinicians, advocates and scientists with expertise in paediatric oncology, targeted protein degradation, high-throughput chemical screening, medicinal chemistry, structural biology, tumour biology, preclinical drug testing and clinical trials, across 10 institutions and five countries. It is one of five new teams that was announced today, representing a total investment of $125m to tackle some of the toughest challenges in cancer research.

Prof von Delft, Professor of Structural Chemical Biology at NDM’s Centre for Medicines Discovery, said: ‘We are thrilled at the opportunity to try to help these really sick children, in such a world-class consortium. Our cutting-edge fragment-based approaches should help short-cut a lot of otherwise difficult medicinal chemistry, and this consortium will help us harden the methodology for degrader approaches beyond this specific clinical need.’

Dr David Scott, Director of Cancer Grand Challenges, said: ‘Together with our network of visionary partners and research leaders, Cancer Grand Challenges unites the world's brightest minds across boundaries and disciplines and aims to overcome cancer’s toughest problems. With this investment, our largest to date, we continue to grow our global research community, and fund new teams that have the potential to surface discoveries that could positively impact cancer outcomes.’