Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has hooked up with Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office (DDO) under a strategic alliance designed to test different combinations of its experimental cancer drugs in early clinical trials. 

Under the partnership, financial specifics of which have not been revealed, certain experimental drugs owned by AZ will be combined and tested alongside conventional treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The hope behind the move is that combination therapy using a number of molecularly targeted drugs with different modes of action may cut the risk of patients developing resistance to a particular individual drug. 

And aside from the potential for new, effective cancer treatments, the alliance will also enable more patients to take part in clinical trials and thereby get short-term access to innovative therapies, the charity noted.

With support from CR UK's DDO, the trials will be managed through the network of Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres across the UK - which are funded by CR UK and the four UK Departments of Health - while AZ will provide access to its experimental medicines as well as some additional financial support. 

Kate Miller, head of the combinations alliance at Cancer Research UK’s DDO, said the initiative will provide "a huge boost to the UK research community in developing exciting new combination therapies". 

She also stressed that the group is looking for more partners interested in collaborating. "Our plan is to take the model we’ve established with AstraZeneca forward by developing cross company agreements and providing access to a larger number of potential combinations to help us beat cancer," she explained.