University of Nottingham research centre to collaborate with US-based company to develop new drugs to target ovarian cancer

Monday, 13 November 2023

A University of Nottingham research centre is embarking on a new collaboration with a US-based early stage drug discover company in a bid to develop new therapies to target ovarian cancer.

The Naaz Coker Ovarian Cancer Research Centre (NOVARC), which was recently established within the university’s Biodiscovery Institute, is focused on accelerating cancer drug discovery and bringing precision medicines to the clinic to fight the disease.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK and the US and the fifth leading cause of death among women. Despite advances in surgery and chemotherapy, the overall outcomes for patients with ovarian cancer remains poor with over 4,000 patients – more than 50 per cent - dying from the condition each year in the UK.

NOVARC will be working with XPose Therapeutics in California on developing drugs that target the cancer at the molecular level, specifically blocking the signals that sense DNA damage in ovarian tumours and trigger repairs. The collaboration will focus on targets including POLH, APE1, FEN1 and PARP1.

The collaboration with XPose therapeutics is a great opportunity to discover new drugs for ovarian cancer. We look forward to aligning NOVARC’s capabilities and XPose expertise to advance DDR inhibitors pipeline through extensive pre-clinical testing and evaluation.
Srinivasan Madhusudan, Professor of Medical Oncology and Director of NOVARC at the Biodiscovery Institute

Debanu Das, PhD, Co-founder and CEO at XPose Therapeutics, added: “XPose Therapeutics is very excited to initiate this collaboration with Professor Srinivasan Madhusudan. In this collaboration, XPose will leverage NOVARC’s expertise to advance towards preclinical discovery and development of novel DDR inhibitors, building on other National Cancer Institute-supported grant funding via a Small Business Innovation Research award to XPose Therapeutics.”

NOVARC has recently been renamed as the Naaz Coker Ovarian Cancer Research Centre to honour Nottingham alumnus, Farid Suleman’s sister, who died from ovarian cancer in 2015. He and his family have made a significant financial contribution to support the establishment of the centre in her honour.

Naaz spent two decades working in the NHS and held many leadership roles, ranging from Pharmaceutical and Clinical Director to General Manager of an acute hospital in London.

She dedicated more than 45 years of her life to helping others, working in the public and voluntary sectors. She was born in Tanzania and came to the UK to pursue her education and career. A successful and intelligent leader, she became Chair of St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, as well as a trustee of The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, C3 Collaborating for Health and the Clore Social Leadership Programme.

Naaz also wrote widely on leadership and management, racism and ethnic health inequalities in the NHS. She was generous with her skills and expertise, and held numerous voluntary appointments including Chair of the British Refugee Council, Chair of Shelter, a trustee and deputy Chair of the RSA. In November 2009, she was awarded the lifetime achievement award in the Lloyds TSB Jewel Awards for her contribution to public life.

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For further information, please contact Adam Mallaby, Media Relations Manager at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 748 5719 or

Adam Mallaby - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (Maternity Cover)
Phone: 0115 748 5719

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