Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University have extended their strategic drug discovery alliance with Astex Pharmaceuticals by three years to work on developing new cancer drugs and associated biomarkers.

The alliance, formed five years ago, brings together researchers in structural and cellular biology, and medicinal chemistry with the fragment-based small molecule drug discovery and development capabilities of Astex.

The existing portfolio of research holds multiple projects across target validation and early stage medicinal chemistry, with projects progressing towards the more advanced stages of preclinical development, the charity noted.

Under the terms of the alliance, Astex retains the right to an exclusive worldwide licence to take the most promising projects forward into preclinical and clinical drug development.

Cancer Research UK and Newcastle University are eligible to receive milestone and royalty payments on any compounds that make it into clinical development and onto the market.

“Promising new compounds resulting from this partnership are now progressing towards the next stage of development. Multi-project alliances like this are powerful engines for innovation and drug discovery,” noted Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of research and innovation.

“The innovative academic-industry collaborative model pioneered with Astex has been a genuine success and we are thrilled to be able to continue working in partnership on our drug discovery research,” added Steve Wedge, Professor of Stratified Cancer Medicine Discovery at Newcastle University.