Cancer Research UK and Astex Therapeutics are teaming up to develop a new oncology treatment.

The charity’s development and commercialisation arm, Cancer Research Technology, will work with Astex on AT13148, a protein kinase B inhibitor. Development will be funded primarily by Cancer Research UK which will receive 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, CRT and The Institute of Cancer Research, which ran from 2003 to 2006.

Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office will carry out further development work on the agent, some of which will be undertaken by the ICR. If everything goes to plan, AT13148 will be taken into Phase I clinical trials at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Victoria John, head of clinical partnerships at Cancer Research UK, said this agent “has been identified as a promising development candidate, which has the potential to impact on a wide range of cancers”. She added that the partnership “is an excellent example of how the charity can work with industry to help bring much needed new treatments to cancer patients”.

Harren Jhoti, Astex’ chief executive, said the firm already has “a number of our candidate agents in development with pharmaceutical companies across the world” and the challenge for the firm “has been to find innovative ways to continue to fund the development of all of our compounds”. He added that the CDP programme “clearly addresses that constraint”.

The compound is the second drug to enter the charity’s Clinical Development Partnerships programme. This deal follows the first CDP agreement with AstraZeneca, which was signed in May and covers the tyrosine kinase inhibitor AZD0424. That drug is in the same class as Novartis’ Glivec (imatinib) and Roche’s Tarceva (erlotnib).