Cancer Research UK and AstraZeneca sign deal to trial first-of-kind cancer drug

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology - the charity's development and commercialisation arm - have reached an agreement with AstraZeneca to take compound AZD-3965 – a first-of-its-kind experimental drug to potentially treat a range of cancers- into clinical trial.

AZD-3965 targets the monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1)* which is essential in cell metabolism. Blocking this transporter limits cancer cells’ ability to generate energy, and decreases their ability to survive. The drug is ready to be taken into early phase clinical trials.

It is the sixth treatment to enter Cancer Research UK's Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) scheme**.

CDP is a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office and Cancer Research Technology, to progress promising anti-cancer agents which pharmaceutical companies do not have the resources to progress through early phase clinical trials.

The deal with AstraZeneca will enable the charity’s Drug Development Office to carry out early clinical trials of the compound to see if it can benefit cancer patients.

Dr Ian Walker, licensing manager for clinical partnerships at Cancer Research Technology, said: “It is fantastic to see a drug from our CDP programme progressing toward a clinical trial to be tested as a potential new treatment for cancer patients.

“This clinical trial simply would not have been possible without the CDP initiative and it demonstrates how Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology can work with industry to develop anti-cancer drugs that would otherwise remain on companies’ shelves. We will continue to work to set in place future similar agreements with industry with the aim of licensing more drugs to provide new treatments for patients.”

Les Hughes, global vice president of cancer research at AstraZeneca, said: “AstraZeneca is committed to the discovery and development of new, targeted anti-cancer therapies to improve the lives of cancer patients but if we are going to be successful in delivering new treatments for cancer patients, it will be important for charities, academics and industry to work collaboratively.

“Working with CRT will enable a compound with a very exciting mechanism to be evaluated in patients using Cancer Research UK’s extensive clinical network. We look forward to this collaboration adding a new dimension to AstraZeneca’s pipeline which contains a number of promising candidates already in development."

Cancer Research UK will fund the Phase I/IIa clinical trial of up to 60 patients to start in 2011. The trial will be managed by its Drug Development Office. The lead clinical trial centre will be Newcastle’s Cancer Research UK Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Network,*** led by Professor Ruth Plummer.
Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca can decide if they wish to develop the drug further based on the clinical trial data results at the end of the Phase I/IIa trial. If it chooses not to, the rights will be given to Cancer Research Technology to secure an alternative partner and ensure the drug has every possible chance of reaching patients. In either case, the charity will receive a share of any future revenues generated by the drug.

Professor Ruth Plummer, study lead at the Newcastle Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, said: “It is incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to run a trial of a completely new type of potential drug to treat patients across a range of different cancers.

“We hope to recruit the first patient soon – and it is thanks to the generosity and time of these patients that it is possible to develop new treatments to potentially treat thousands of patients in the future.”

Dr Nigel Blackburn, director of drug development at Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office, said: “One of Cancer Research UK’s key aims is to boost the number of new treatments for cancer patients.

“Our strong links with industry have enabled us to make great progress by launching this clinical trial of a promising compound that without this partnership may have remained on a shelf gathering dust.”

ENDS

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Notes to Editor

*Monocarboxylate transporters carry a group of molecules called monocarboxylates to and from cell membranes and are essential to cell metabolism.

**Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP).

The first trial to take place as a result of the CDP initiative is a Phase I clinical trial of GlaxoSmithKline’s aurora kinase inhibitor GSK-1070916A - a promising new drug to treat solid tumours.

The Phase I trial, funded by Cancer Research UK launched this June at the Institute of Oncology at St James's University Hospital in Leeds and Barts and The London's Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in London. The trial is being managed by the charity's highly experienced Drug Development Office.

Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) is a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology, the charity's development and commercialisation arm. It aims to increase the number of successful new treatments for cancer by taking undeveloped anti-cancer agents from industry and putting them into clinical trials.

The initiative is targeted at leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies which have a large pool of molecules that may have anti-cancer properties. However, these companies have to prioritise which agents they take into clinical development - this leaves potentially effective treatments on pharmaceutical companies' shelves.

CDP will take promising but 'deprioritised' anti-cancer drugs into early stage clinical trials through Cancer Research UK's highly experienced Drug Development Office. Effectively the charity will 'borrow' a drug from a company and conduct early clinical trials at no up front cost to the company. If the drug looks promising, the company retains the option to develop and market the drug, but with the charity receiving a share of any future revenues.

All previous press releases on this partnership are at this link:

http://www.cancertechnology.co.uk/PressReleases2010.html

***The Newcastle Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre is based at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University