Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Technology (CRT) – the charity’s development and commercialisation arm – and Astex Therapeutics Limited announced today that they have agreed to take into development a potential new anti-cancer treatment.

AT13148 – a protein kinase B inhibitor* – is the second drug to enter the charity’s Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) programme. This deal follows the first CDP agreement with AstraZeneca in May 2008.

The CDP initiative was set up in 2006 to advance promising anti-cancer agents into the clinic – offering companies with compounds an alternative model to traditional out licensing by allowing them to retain rights to the compound throughout the development process.

Under the terms of this new agreement, Cancer Research UK’s specialised Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office will carry out further development work on the agent. Some of this work will be undertaken by The Institute of Cancer Research, and if successful it will be taken into phase I clinical trials at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Dr Victoria John, head of clinical partnerships at Cancer Research UK, said: “We’re very excited to be entering this deal with Astex Therapeutics. This agent has been identified as a promising development candidate, which has the potential to impact on a wide range of cancers. Entering into this partnership is an excellent example of how the charity can work with industry to help bring much needed new treatments to cancer patients.”

This work will be funded primarily by Cancer Research UK with the charity receiving a share of any revenues including a royalty on sales. The molecule was originally discovered by scientists on the PKB drug discovery programme, a collaboration between Astex Therapeutics, CRT and The Institute of Cancer Research, which ran from 2003 through to 2006.

Harren Jhoti, Astex Therapeutics’ chief executive officer said: “This agreement with Cancer Research UK builds on the previous PKB drug discovery collaboration with The Institute of Cancer Research and CRT, which began in 2003 and first identified this agent.

“Astex Therapeutics is committed to the discovery of small molecule drugs and we already have a number of our candidate agents in development with pharmaceutical companies across the world. Given the productivity of our drug discovery approach, the challenge for Astex has been to find innovative ways to continue to fund the development of all of our compounds and the CDP programme clearly addresses that constraint. Our history of working with Cancer Research UK on AT13148 means they are uniquely placed to partner with us on the development of this potentially exciting new treatment and we await the outcome of their work with interest.”

Dr Keith Blundy, chief executive of Cancer Research Technology, said: “We’re very pleased to be entering our second CDP agreement this year and this deal presents us with an opportunity to take forward an exciting new development candidate. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have to prioritise which agents they take into clinical development and this agreement highlights the benefits of collaborating in research efforts to advance the development of new cancer treatments.”


For media enquiries, please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


*Protein kinase B (also known as AKT) is responsible for the inappropriate growth and survival of tumour cells in many different cancers. Disruption of the tumour suppressor PTEN leads to activation of the PKB pathway. The development of drugs such as the small molecule inhibitor AT13148 would dampen the protein kinase B pathway and prevent tumour growth.

Cancer Research Technology

Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is wholly owned by Cancer Research UK, the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world.

Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office

Cancer Research UK has an impressive record of developing novel treatments for cancer. It currently has a portfolio of around 40 new anti-cancer agents in preclinical development, Phase I or early phase II clinical trials. Since 1982, the Cancer Research UK Drug Development Office has taken over 100 potential new anti-cancer agents into clinical trials in patients, five of which have made it to market and many others are still in development. These include temozolomide, a drug discovered by Cancer Research UK scientists, that is an effective new treatment for brain cancer. Six other drugs are in late development phase III trials. This rate of success is comparable to that of any pharmaceutical company.

Astex Therapeutics

Astex is a UK-based biotechnology company that discovers and develops novel small molecule therapeutics. Using its pioneering fragment-based drug discovery platform Pyramidâ„¢, Astex has built a pipeline of five molecularly-targeted oncology drugs, of which three are currently being tested in clinical trials and two are in pre-clinical development.

In addition to its proprietary research programmes, Astex’s productivity in lead discovery has been endorsed through numerous partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Bayer-Schering, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis and Johnson and Johnson.

The Institute of Cancer Research

The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. The Institute of Cancer Research,

The Institute is a charity that relies on voluntary income. The Institute is one of the world’s most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with over 95p in every £ of total income directly supporting research.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
  • Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
  • Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.
  • For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit our homepage.