Cancer Research Horizons and Newcastle University extend their strategic drug discovery alliance with Astex Pharmaceuticals

Cancer Research UK’s new innovation engine, Cancer Research Horizons, and Newcastle University, have announced a significant further extension of their strategic drug discovery alliance with Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK) (“Astex”), a of biotechnology dedicated to the discovery and development of new small molecule therapies.

The alliance will continue to focus on the discovery of potential new cancer drugs with associated biomarkers, providing an innovative path to the development of more effective cancer drugs.

The agreement signed between the three parties will extend their current alliance for an additional 5 years, which, if completed, will result in an ongoing strategic drug discovery alliance spanning 15 years. Cumulatively, this will be one of Cancer Research UK’s longest running translational collaborations with a relationship spanning nearly 20 years.

Too few promising treatments reach cancer patients fast enough, and many discoveries languish in the translational divide.

Building stronger bridges between academic researchers and industry is key to ensuring there is a pathway for potentially useful compounds to progress to the next stages of drug development and eventually treatments for patients.

The alliance brings together world-leading researchers in structural and cellular biology and medicinal chemistry with Astex’s innovative small-molecule fragment-based drug discovery and development capabilities, to accelerate promising discoveries coming out of the laboratory and enter the clinic. .

The existing alliance portfolio includes several early-stage target validation and outcome identification projects, with projects progressing to more advanced stages of preclinical development.

This multi-project alliance has proven to be a powerful approach for the discovery of innovative drugs. The alliance has already led to the identification of an antagonist compound of MDM2-p53 (ASTX295) which has entered clinical evaluation. This builds on the success of a previous collaboration between Astex, Newcastle and Cancer Research UK on the evaluation of inhibitors of the tyrosine kinase family of the fibroblast growth factor receptor, a key cancer target which ultimately led to the development of a first-class drug.

Under the terms of the alliance agreement, Astex retains the right to an exclusive worldwide license to advance the most promising projects into preclinical and clinical drug development. Cancer Research Horizons and Newcastle University are eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties on all compounds that enter clinical development and enter the market.

The extension of this alliance demonstrates the long-term success of the efforts of the three partners over nearly 20 years of existing collaboration. We are excited to see this alliance continue under our new organization, Cancer Research Horizons, which will provide the scale, agility and access to commercial expertise any partner needs to accelerate promising discoveries outside of the lab. and in the hands of patients. .”

Dr. Iain Foulkes, Executive Director, Cancer Research Horizons

Dr David Rees, Chief Scientific Officer of Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK), said: “Our strategic alliance with Newcastle and CRT is an important and fruitful collaboration for Astex. We are excited to expand our alliance to discover new compounds to advance in development. »

Steve Wedge, Scientific Director of Cancer Research Horizons and Professor of Stratified Discovery of Cancer Medicine at the University of Newcastle, said: “This important university-industry collaboration has been a real success, and I am delighted to see it continue to rely on the impressive track record of all the partners. Risk-sharing partnerships like this allow us to bring together complementary expertise and enable us to maximize the development of our world-class cancer treatment research.

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