Oss, May, 27th, 2015 – NTRC scientists have discovered new combinations of existing drugs to selectively target difficult-to-drug cancer genes, such as MYC and KRAS. The results of these studies have been published today in the open-access online journal PLOS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0125021).
The aim of combination drug treatment in cancer therapy is to improve response rate and to decrease the probability of the development of drug resistance. Preferably, drug combinations are synergistic, which means that the combination works better than the drugs alone. NTRC scientists have developed a workflow to identify drug combinations that show synergy only in cancer cells and not in normal cells. This approach was applied to selectively inhibit the proliferation of cell lines with mutations in genes that are difficult to modulate with small molecules.
Combination studies were performed with compounds that as single agents showed preference for inhibition of cancer cells with mutations in certain cancer driver genes. This way, several novel synergistic drug combinations were identified, such as of a growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase and Aurora kinase inhibitors in cell lines with MYC amplification, and ERBB2 and MEK inhibitors in KRAS-mutant cell lines. The study demonstrates a new approach to efficiently discover novel drug combinations that selectively target cancer genes.
Development of the SynergyFinder™ platform was supported by a grant from the Innovation Office (RVO) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands. SynergyFinder™ is offered as a commercial service by NTRC.

NTRC is a biotech company based at the Pivot Park in Oss, The Netherlands. NTRC (Netherlands Translational Research Center B.V.) develops scientific ideas into small molecule drug candidates, using its proprietary technology platforms Oncolines™, SynergyFinder™, ResidenceTimer™ and NFK GreenScreen™. For more information, see the website of NTRC: www.ntrc.nl, or send an e-mail to services@ntrc.nl.