Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University have extended their strategic drug discovery alliance with Astex Pharmaceuticals for three years.

Astex is a pharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery and development of new small molecule therapeutics.

Established five years ago, the collaboration combined the work of researchers in structural and cellular biology, as well as medicinal chemistry with the fragment-based, small molecule drug discovery and development capabilities of the company.

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

Cancer Research UK Research and Innovation executive director Dr Iain Foulkes 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.

"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.”

Under the new agreement, Astex Pharmaceuticals retains the right to an exclusive worldwide licence for taking new projects into pre-clinical and clinical drug development stages.

Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University are eligible to receive milestone and royalty payments on any compounds that the company takes into clinical development and successfully commercialises.

The parties will have the provision to further extend their alliance towards the end of the three-year period.

Image: Cancer Research UK, Newcastle University and Astex Pharmaceuticals extend cancer drug discovery alliance for three years. Photo: courtesy of Cancer Research UK.