YORKSHIRE Cancer Research (YCR) has used World Cancer Day to confirm plans to fund the first clinical trial of a ‘smart-bomb’ drug discovered in Bradford.

The charity, a partner in the £1 million Telegraph & Argus Bradford Crocus Cancer Appeal, will invest £634,000 in the trial of the drug, which was discovered by researchers led by Professor Laurence Patterson at the University of Bradford’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics (ICT) in 2011.

It is currently being progressed into trials by the University’s spin-out company, Incanthera Limited.

The discovery of the ‘smart-bomb’ drug led to the successful £1 million Crocus appeal, which began in May 2013 involving the T&A, the university, YCR, and the Sovereign Healthcare Charitable Trust.

The initiative allowed the university to invest in a cutting-edge proteomics mass spectrometer, which is now allowing researchers to analyse proteins in cancer cells at a much quicker rate, improving the number of opportunities for the development of new cancer medicines.

The 'smart-bomb' treatment is derived from colchicine, a natural compound occurring in the autumn crocus plant, and is designed to find and destroy solid tumours, sparing healthy tissue.

"The discovery and development of this new therapy to specifically target the tumour blood supply was made possible by a team of medicinal chemists, tumour biologists, and cancer pharmacologists all working together under one roof," said Professor Patterson.

"The team have identified the benefits of colchicine, an ancient treatment derived from plants such as the autumn crocus, and made a synthetic derivative that is inactive until converted to a powerful anti-cancer agent specifically in the tumour."

Patients from across Yorkshire with advanced cancers, including lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer, will be recruited to take part in the trial, which will be led by Professor Chris Twelves at the University of Leeds.

The trial will be carried out by clinicians at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with laboratory studies supporting the trial led by Professor Paul Loadman at the ICT in Bradford.

The first patient is due to receive the drug in the Autumn.

"This will be the first trial in patients with cancer to show that this drug is safe and works correctly," said Professor Twelves.

"Cancer outcomes are worse for patients in Yorkshire than in many other parts of the UK, so there is a particular need for effective new treatments.

"Cancer patients in Yorkshire also have fewer opportunities to participate in experimental treatment trials.

"This trial will be carried out at the two largest Yorkshire cancer centres, giving as many patients as possible the opportunity to participate.

"Ultimately, this may lead to a new effective and safe treatment for cancer patients in Yorkshire and beyond."

Charles Rowett, chief executive officer at YCR, said: "We’re very proud to reveal plans for the first clinical trial of a drug discovered in our region, thanks to funding from our charity and other organisations.

"The trial will bring this innovative treatment one step closer to reaching cancer patients."