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A new pharma candidate that Inhibits the formation of metastases

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Cellular and Molecular Biology
Post-secondary non-tertiary education


A UK University has identified that sucralose can reduce the permeability of capillary walls, preventing the spread of cancer cells via the bloodstream, and inhibit the formation of blood vessels in new tissue, restricting tumour growth. It seeks partners to clinically trial and commercialise the product under at commercial agreement with technical assistance, a license agreement or a research cooperation agreement.



This UK University has been researching new ways to slow the spread of tumorous cancers.
There has been significant past research to confirm that the spread of cancer through metastasis formation is a major cause of death.
Malignant cancer cells can cross the endothelial barrier into blood vessels enabling them to move around the body from a primary location and spread to a secondary location, where they cross the endothelial barrier again and enter tissue.
When cancer cells reach the secondary location, they produce a signalling protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that promotes the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), providing the oxygen and nutrients needed to support the metastatic tumour. VEGF also increases leak across the endothelium therefore promoting the spread of cancer cells through the body. The prognosis for patients with metastasis is poor and there is thus a great need to develop effective treatments to prevent the formation and growth of metastatic tumours.
Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose reduce the permeability of the capillary walls which can be caused by the tumour. Research has demonstrated that sucralose reduces tube formation and vascular leak in the endothelium.
The next stage of the project will establish how this protective effect extends to the tumour vasculature. Experiments with co cultures of primary endothelial, metastatic and non-metastatic cancer cell lines will be performed to demonstrate the extent to which artificial sweeteners can:
1. Strengthen the endothelium to reduce the movement of cancer cells
2. Limit the growth of new vessels in a tumour environment by blocking angiogenic processes.
These studies will take 2 years to complete and require funding for a laboratory researcher and consumables at a cost of £250,000.
The university would like to find partners to clinically trial and commercialise the product either under a licensing agreement or commercial agreement with technical assistance or a research cooperation agreement.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
The anticipated outcomes of the research will show that T1R3 agonists (a shared subunit of both the sweet taste receptor (T1R2+T1R3) and umami taste receptor (T1R1+T1R3)) protect against metastatic conditions by improving barrier integrity concomitant with reduced movement of cancer cells across the barrier (decreased metastasis). Further studies are expected to show that T1R3 agonists limit angiogenic processes caused by metastatic conditions, thereby blocking the development of tumours. Finally, studies will indicate the role of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) in regulating these protective effects and indicate the role of specific MMPs in mediating this protective effect of artificial sweeteners. Taken together, these data will demonstrate the potential for sucralose, and other artificial sweeteners, to improve outcomes for patients with metastasis

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Under development/lab tested

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
The university are seeking a commercial partner to take the work forward, with the aim of licensing or selling the IP as it moves towards a clinical trial

Type and size

Cooperation task: 
SME 11-50,SME <10,251-500,SME 51-250,>500