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A New 'Blueprint' for Cancer Drugs

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Blueprint Medicines, a new startup company based in Massachusetts, has just been given $40 million in funding from Third Rock Ventures to create new cancer drugs based on genomic discoveries of cancer subtypes instead of the affected organ or body part, reports Technology Review's Emily Singer. The company will take a "molecular viewpoint" instead of the traditional "pathology-centric viewpoint" to treating cancer, the company's co-founder, Chris Varma, tells Singer. "What we find is that the mechanisms that are driving cancer come up again and again in different environments. The same mechanism responsible for some breast cancers could be driving a subset of brain cancer or melanoma," he adds. The company's other cofounders include Nicholas Lydon and Brian Druker, who led the development of Novartis' leukemia drug Gleevec. Blueprint plans to use the cancer genomic information contained in public databases to being to identify new drug targets, Singer says. "Blueprint is building a platform that will initially use computational algorithms to analyze genomic data for potential molecular mistakes linked to cancer," she adds. "The company is also building a proprietary library of … kinase inhibitors. [Cofounder David] Armistead says the researchers will use computational modeling and x-ray crystallography to create a library of structures and then test the compounds' ability to inhibit different kinases. They plan to generate and screen the library within the next 12 to 18 months."

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