Cancer Research UK’s subsidiary Cancer Research Technology (CRT) has signed a five-year drug-discovery deal with Celgene to develop and commercialise new anti-cancer treatments.

The alliance will focus on mRNA translation, which the groups note could potentially produce treatments able to target a fundamental characteristic of cancer cells.

As per the terms of the deal, CRT will lead drug discovery R&D activity and can progress clinical candidates through Phase I trials.

Celgene will pay an upfront fee and also has the option to secure US and global rights for additional option fees, while CRT is eligible for royalties and development milestones from any licensed programmes. More specific details were not disclosed.

“This bold and exciting collaboration between one of industry’s leading innovators, Celgene, and CRT is part of our theme-based drug discovery approach and helps leverage our understanding of cancer biology and the needs of patients to drive the most promising discoveries into the clinic,” said Iain Foulkes, CRT’s chief executive.

“This is our largest drug discovery collaboration to date and represents a major endorsement of the reputation and scale of our capacity and expertise in both drug discovery and clinical development by a leading industry partner.”