Otsuka subsidiary Astex Pharmaceuticals is the latest pharma company to join the UK’s Dementia Consortium.

The Consortium is a £3.5 million charity-private collaboration to fund target validation and early-phase drug discovery and bridge the gap between academic research and pharma companies.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, MRC Technology, Eisai and Lilly are the current members. As well as knowledge and resources, Astex will bring additional capital investment to help fund projects.

To date the Consortium has awarded around £800,000 of funding for research projects focusing on Alzheimer’s disease, motor neurone disease, and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD), the most common cause of dementia in people under the age of 50.

Dr Lee Dawson, vice president of CNS at Astex, says: “The biological mechanisms that underpin the pathology of dementia are incredibly complex, and new opportunities for possible therapeutic intervention can only be developed by pooling research knowledge and know-how from across academic, charity and industry sectors. 

“Astex is excited about becoming a partner in the Dementia Consortium and we look forward to applying our expertise in drug discovery and fragment-based drug design to this endeavour.”

Astex is best known as a cancer specialist, with its lead candidate being SGI-110, a potential best-in-class subcutaneous hypomethylating agent which is being evaluated for a variety of haematological and solid tumour oncology indications, including MDS, AML, ovarian and liver cancers.

In 2013 the company was acquired by Otsuka in a deal worth $886 million.

Dr Simon Ridley, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, adds: “We are delighted to welcome Astex on board, to broaden ties with industrial partners and bring new perspectives to the Consortium.”