Harnessing the Power of Phosphoramidate Chemistry

Our proprietary ProTide technology was invented in the Cardiff University laboratory of our late Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Christopher McGuigan. The unique feature of his discovery was the specific combination of aryl, ester and amino acid groupings that protect the activated, or phosphorylated, nucleoside analog. This phosphoramidate chemistry approach is the key to the ProTide technology and each new molecule is specifically designed to evade or overcome key cancer resistance mechanisms in the uptake, activation and breakdown of nucleoside analogs. As a result, our ProTides generate much higher intracellular concentrations of the active anti-cancer metabolites and in turn should represent more effective and safer medicines.

protide tramsformation diagram/animation

NuCana's ProTide Technology Represents a New Era in Oncology

ProTides are designed to benefit the majority of patients with cancer. Nuceloside analogs are some of the most widely prescribed chemotherapy agents, but as pro-drugs they are severely limited in their efficacy and safety because of inherent or acquired cancer resistance mechanisms. The ProTide technology overcomes these key cancer resistance pathways by transforming this established class of drugs into more effective and safer medicines, and providing clinical benefit to a wider patient population.

Chemotherapy remains a crucial part of modern cancer treatment and the backbone for most current therapy regimens. But, for most chemotherapy drugs, cancer cell resistance and unwanted toxicity limit their utility. Our ProTides provide a novel solution, with much improved targeting of the cancer and many times higher concentrations of the active anti-cancer agents within the cancer cells. We believe our ProTide approach will result in a new era in oncology.

Our most advanced ProTide candidates, Acelarin and NUC-3373, are new chemical entities derived from the nucleoside analogs gemcitabine and 5-fluorouracil, respectively, two widely used chemotherapy agents. Acelarin is currently being evaluated in three clinical studies across several solid tumour indications, including ovarian cancer, biliary cancer and pancreatic cancer. NUC-3373 is currently in a Phase I study for the potential treatment of a wide range of advanced solid tumour cancers.

Our goal is to transform standards of care and improve survival outcomes for patients across a wide range of cancer indications.

The Next Generation Chemotherapy


Our lead product candidate is designed to overcome the key cancer resistance mechanisms associated with gemcitabine. Currently in Phase I, II and III studies.


Our second ProTide is designed to overcome the key cancer resistance mechanisms associated with 5-FU. Currently in a Phase I study in patients with advanced solid tumours.


A ProTide transformation of cordycepin, a novel nucleoside analog with a unique mode of action and potent anti-cancer activity in preclinical studies. Initiating a Phase I study in 2018.

Our Pipeline

Our proprietary technology platform has the potential to generate several new cancer agents, scientifically designed to be more efficacious and safer than the current standards of care. Our most advanced ProTides and their stage of development are highlighted below.

NuCana current pipeline

We are pursuing both the transformation of well-established and widely used nucleoside analogs as well as novel nucleoside analogs, which we believe have the potential to address additional areas of unmet medical need in oncology.