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1 September, 2017 - 13:42 By Kate Sweeney

Astex Pharmaceuticals at heart of renewed cancer drug push

Harren Jhoti Astex

Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University have agreed a three-year extension to a strategic drug discovery alliance with Cambridge Science Park company Astex Pharmaceuticals, a pioneer of novel small molecule therapeutics.

The alliance, formed five years ago, brings together world-leading researchers in structural and cellular biology and medicinal chemistry with the innovative fragment-based small molecule drug discovery and development capabilities of Astex.

The researchers at the Cancer Research UK Drug Discovery Programme at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR), Newcastle University, will work to identify and develop new cancer drugs and associated biomarkers.

The existing portfolio of research consists of multiple projects spanning target validation and early stage medicinal chemistry, with projects progressing towards the more advanced stages of preclinical development.

The new agreement also includes provisions for further extension of the alliance towards the end of the new three year term.

Astex retains the right to an exclusive worldwide licence to take the most promising projects forward into pre-clinical and clinical drug development. 
In return, Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University are eligible to receive milestone and royalty payments on any compounds that Astex takes into clinical development and successfully commercialises.

Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of research and innovation, said: “Promising new compounds resulting from this partnership are now progressing towards the next stage of development.

“Multi-project alliances like this are powerful engines for innovation and drug discovery and this announcement underlines Cancer Research UK’s exceptional track record of bringing these together successfully.”

Dr Harren Jhoti (pictured), president and CEO of Astex, added: “The extension of our agreement with Newcastle and Cancer Research UK underlines the success of our existing alliance and the importance we place on collaboration with world leading academic research groups to strengthen our efforts to discover new treatments for patients. 

“We look forward to continuing our important work and to continued success in bringing new compounds into development.”

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