A Phase I trial with the first drug to be ready for use in patients under Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK) Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) programme will start within the next year.

The aurora kinase inhibitor (1070916A) from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is actually the third drug to enter the CDP programme but is further advanced than its two predecessors. Under the initiative launched in 2006, CRUK and its development and commercialisation arm, Cancer Research Technology (CRT), take ‘deprioritised’ but potentially valuable anticancer agents through early clinical development at no cost to the originator.

Cancer Research UK will sponsor the Phase I trial with 1070916A at the Institute of Oncology, St James’s University Hospital in Leeds and at Barts and the London’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in London.

The trial will be managed by CRUK’s drug development office and will involve some 30-40 patients with advanced solid tumours who have received all currently available treatments. If it is successful, the charity will have the chance to carry out a further Phase II study.

Under the terms of the partnership with GSK, Cancer Research UK will fund 1070916A through early clinical development and GSK will have the option to develop further and commercialise the molecule in exchange for future payments to CRUK. No financial terms were disclosed.

If GSK decides not to take the clinical programme forward, the rights to 1070916A will transfer to CRT with the aim of finding an alternative partner, the charity noted.

Clinical Development Partnerships are targeted mainly at leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with large pipelines that have to make difficult decisions about which compounds to advance into Phase I.

As CRT chief executive Dr Keith Blundy pointed out, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies “have always had to prioritise which agents they take into clinical development, but even more so in the current economic climate”.