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16 March, 2018 - 11:07 By Tony Quested

Astex IP targeted at potential $1 billion market

Cambridge based Astex Pharmaceuticals and its partner Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V have made significant progress towards commercialisation of a potential new treatment for metastatic urothelial cancer.

Intel specialist Globaldata anticipates that the global market for this segment will be more than $1 billion by 2025. Technovia gives a more conservative estimate, predicting a global market in excess of $600 million by 2021; either way the opportunity is huge for Astex and Janssen.

Janssen has been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the US FDA for erdafitinib in the treatment of this form of cancer.

Erdafitinib was discovered by Astex and Janssen as part of a 2008 exclusive worldwide collaboration and licence agreement to identify novel, small molecule inhibitors of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor (FGFR) kinase, including for the treatment of cancer. 

Janssen is responsible for the clinical development and commercialisation of all products arising from this collaboration.

The FGFR inhibitor programme between Astex and Janssen underlines the UK strengths in academic-biotech collaboration as it originated from pioneering work on FGFR between Astex and the Cancer Research UK Drug Discovery Group at the Newcastle Cancer Centre, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University in the UK.

Urothelial cancer, particularly of the bladder, is the sixth most common type of cancer in the US. Breakthrough Therapy Designation allows for the expedited development and regulatory review of erdafitinib as a potential new treatment option for patients with metastatic disease. It was granted based on positive data from a multicentre, open-label Phase 2 clinical trial.

Harren Jhoti, president and CEO of Astex, UK, said: “This is a great endorsement of our scientific approach and our team. Astex is committed to the fight against cancer and so is delighted that erdafitinib has been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the US FDA.

“Congratulations to our valued collaborators at Janssen for their excellent work in advancing erdafitinib to this exciting stage in its development.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Harren Jhoti

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