DURHAM – The National Cancer Institute has signed a research and development agreement with drug development firm Serenex to explore the cancer fighting potential of a Serenex compound.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Under the agreement, the NCI will evaluate whether Serenex’s compound known as SNX-5422 can fight a form of lung cancer.

The compound has shown “exceptional efficacy” in preclinical studies, according to Serenex Chief Executive Officer Richard Kent. The work with the NCI could lead to the launch of clinical trials in patients with lung cancer, Kent added.

Serenex is seeking to develop means of targeting a protein called Hsp90 that is involved in cell growth and survival. Development of inhibitors targeting Hsp90 could be useful in treating solid and hematological tumors as well as other neurodegenerative diseases, according to Serenex.