School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University extend multi-project drug discovery alliance with Astex Pharmaceuticals

Cancer Research UK* and Newcastle University are delighted to announce a three-year extension to their major strategic drug discovery alliance with Astex Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics.

The alliance, which was 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 medicinal chemistry group from NICR is based in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and is led by Prof. Mike Waring, Dr. Celine Cano and Dr. Ian Hardcastle and the team will work to identify and optimise lead molecules for novel cancer targets and develop them to drug candidates in collaboration with researchers at Astex.

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:

“We’re delighted to extend this major collaboration which accelerates the development of Cancer Research UK’s world class work into new treatments for patients.

“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.”

Steve Wedge, Professor of Stratified Cancer Medicine Discovery at Newcastle University, said:

“The innovative academic-industry collaborative model pioneered with Astex has been a genuine success and we are thrilled to be able to continue working in partnership on our drug discovery research.

“The alliance benefits significantly from complementary expertise and provides a route to progress promising novel therapies towards clinical use.”

Mike Waring, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Newcastle University said:

“We are delighted to be able to continue our collaboration with friends and colleagues at Astex. This gives us the capability to vastly increase our capability to deliver new treatments for cancer by increasing resources and by bringing together complementary expertise and technology.”

Dr Harren Jhoti, President and Chief Executive Officer of Astex, said:

“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.”

Astex Pharmaceuticals logo

published on: 18 August 2017