Collaboration between CU Cancer Center and NantBioScience will allow Theodorescu and team to work toward drugs that target Ral protein activation, implicated in nearly a third of all cancers.

The University of Colorado Cancer Center announces today a research collaboration with NantBioScience for the development and commercialization of anti-cancer agents designed to target the Ral protein, a cell signaling protein implicated in the growth and spread of cancer. The announcement follows this week’s publication in the journal NATURE of an article describing a novel approach to targeting Ral protein activation, and drug candidates that may block this activation.

Although the Ral protein has been found to play a role in the most commonly activated signaling pathways across cancer types, including colon, lung and pancreatic cancers, it has not yet been successfully targeted for potential therapeutic intervention. The CU Cancer Center’s partnership with NantBioScience is focused on the development of clinical compounds designed to block the function of the Ral protein.

“NantBioScience is committed to the discovery and development of cancer fighting therapies that target the key drivers and root causes of tumor growth and spread. Targeting the Ral protein expands our ongoing efforts to silence a key pathway, the RAS pathway, that has been found to be altered and constitutively activated in one out of three cancers,” said Shahrooz Rabizadeh, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of NantBioScience. “We are pleased to be partnering with the University of Colorado, leaders in the science of inhibiting Ral function, to accelerate the development of novel cancer medicines for patients.”

Through structural and computational analysis, compounds that block the activity of Ral were identified by Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, and colleagues, demonstrating the feasibility of developing potential treatments for this target. This pursuit of a clinical product targeting Ral is a collaborative effort, with teams from both the CU Cancer Center and NantBioScience conducting research activities together.

“We are excited to partner with NantBioScience to one day bring our basic research of Ral protein inhibitors to the beside of patients in the form of a new cancer fighting treatment,” says Theodorescu, director of the CU Cancer Center and senior author of the recent NATURE article.

“This collaboration with Dr. Dan Theodorescu and the University of Colorado Cancer Center furthers our goal to catalyze personalized precision cancer care in our war against cancer,” said Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, CEO of NantBioScience.