Astex Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge UK has earned a £3.5 million ($5.4m) milestone payment triggered by a new Phase I clinical trial begun by a key partner.Astex is eligible for ongoing milestones during clinical development and royalties on commercialisation of products.
The windfall derives from a collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV. Janssen has received clearance to start a Phase I clinical trial of a Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor (FGFR) kinase inhibitor from its collaborative, cancer drug discovery program with Astex.
The regulatory approval required to take the compound into Phase I triggers the initial milestone payment to Astex.
The FGFR inhibitor program between Janssen and Astex originated from an earlier collaboration between Astex, the Cancer Research UK Drug Discovery Group at the Newcastle Cancer Centre (NCC), and the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, UK.
As part of the collaboration, Astex applied its fragment-based drug discovery approach, Pyramid™, to identify lead compounds inhibiting FGFR kinase. The partnership with Janssen was entered into in June 2008.
Janssen is responsible for the clinical and regulatory development of all products arising from the collaboration and for their global commercialisation.
Harren Jhoti, president of Astex, said: “We are delighted that Janssen has received approval to commence a Phase I study on this FGFR kinase inhibitor, a drug that has the potential to address a significant area of unmet medical need.
“This milestone underscores how effective collaborations between leading research institutions, biotech companies and pharmaceutical partners can be in delivering new drug candidates for patients.”
The FGFR family of receptors and their somatic activation is increasingly recognised as a common abnormality in many cancers. This occurs through multiple mechanisms including, somatic mutation (e.g. bladder, endometrial and gastric cancers), gene amplification (e.g. lung and breast cancers) and chromosomal translocation and generation of gene fusions (e.g. multiple myeloma, and myeloproliferative disease).