Home » Bladder and Bowel » London researchers developing novel drug to reduce bowel cancer development
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Jeff Moore, PhD

Founder & CEO, Curileum Disovery

A new drug to intervene before bowel cancer has chance to develop is showing promise to test in the clinic.


Bowel cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally. Five-year survival rates are 60%, even after surgeries and current therapies. Despite a USD 12 billion worldwide market for treating bowel cancer, there remains no medical cure.

Now London-based biotechnology company Curileum Discovery Ltd is working on an oral drug candidate they discovered to intervene early in the development of bowel cancer.

The drug candidate has been shown to work in the laboratory and the company is currently looking for business partners to conduct clinical trials.

Early intervention

Dr Jeff Moore, founder and CEO of Curileum, explains how the drug would work: “The single cell gut mucosal layer is the body’s most highly regenerative tissue. It’s replaced every week from a reserve of stem cells located below the surface. Inherited genetic mutations and mutations that accumulate throughout life can disrupt the tight regulation of cell production and lead to bowel cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.”

“This is why we focus on intervening early, using small molecules to correct abnormal cell production.”

We have identified modulators to correct imbalances in the gut mucosal wall cell production.

Potential advancements

“The drug is a small molecule derived from a plant used in Chinese traditional medicine. We have found that when it is administered orally over two months it reduces both polyp formation and advanced polyps in a preclinical bowel cancer model.”

Polyps, which form on the single cell mucosal wall of the gut, often are benign. However, bowel cancer develops from advanced stage polyps called adenomas.

“We have identified modulators to correct imbalances in the gut mucosal wall cell production, intervening in disease before it develops,” says Dr Moore. “As a botanical product with an excellent safety and efficacy profile, the drug has the potential to reduce polyp formation and progression to bowel cancer for high-risk individuals.”

Focus on reducing development of bowel cancer 

Dr Moore envisages the use of the new drug among people who are newly diagnosed and undergoing treatment, those with family histories of bowel cancer and individuals identified in UK bowel screening programmes.

He adds: “Reducing the development of bowel cancer at this early, cellular stage, might reduce or even avoid the necessity for surgery and the toxicities of cancer treatments. It might also reduce the risk of recurrence.”

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