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Established in 2008, NuCana plc is a Nasdaq-listed, Edinburgh-based, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing new treatments for cancer.

Cancer treatment has advanced hugely over recent years, but the mainstay of treatment remains cytotoxic chemotherapy. With unwanted toxicity and the cancer developing resistance, we need better solutions. Using ProTide chemistry it is possible to bypass key resistance mechanisms and allow higher levels of efficacy. The same chemistry underpins some of the drugs used to successfully treat viral diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and COVID.

Understanding how these medicines work at a molecular and cellular level is key and, over eight years, the University of St Andrews has built collaborative links with NuCana, through the School of Medicine, the School of Biology and Computing Science. Together we have developed techniques on cell and molecular analyses, tissue diagnosis and histopathology, mass spectrometry, image analysis and artificial intelligence. More recently we have used biocatalysis to explore how to generate completely novel starter compounds that can be developed as potential new medicines. NuCana has directly invested in equipment, five postdoctoral fellows, four PhD studentships, eight undergraduate projects, one technician and laboratory costs, and co-invested to support two postdocs and six PhD students, amounting in total to more than £1 million.

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