GlaxoSmithKline has become the latest firm to sign a deal with UK firm Astex Therapeutics and be granted a non-exclusive, worldwide licence to the latter’s cytochrome P450 intellectual property.

Under the terms of the agreement, GSK will pay an undisclosed upfront fee to Astex in return for access to its human cytochrome P450 technology which can be applied to the discovery and development of novel drugs with reduced metabolic liabilities. GSK becomes the second partner for cytochrome P450 as Pfizer signed up to the technology in 2006.

GSK, NeuroSearch depression drug in new Phase II trial

GSK also noted that it has begun, along with Danish partner NeuroSearch, the second of two Phase II studies on the depression treatment NS2359. The first was initiated in December and NeuroSearch said that the drug candidate has a unique profile expected to yield important benefits compared to existing treatments, including improvement of cognitive functions and possibly an earlier onset of action.

Under its agreement with GSK, signed in 2003, NeuroSearch is entitled to receive clinical milestone payments and royalties on eventual future sales of NS2359.