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Cambridge Enterprise portfolio company Astex Therapeutics, the UK-based biotechnology company developing targeted therapies for oncology and virology, has received a milestone payment from its collaboration with Novartis.

The milestone payment was triggered by the initiation of a first-in-human clinical trial of investigational anti-cancer drug LEE011. LEE011 derives from the collaboration between Novartis and Astex announced in December 2005 aimed at developing novel cancer therapies targeting the cell cycle.

We are delighted that our collaboration with Novartis has delivered this exciting new compound. We anticipate that targeted agents like LEE011 will provide new therapeutic options to patients with cancers of high unmet medical need.

Harren Jhoti

“We are delighted that our collaboration with Novartis has delivered this exciting new compound. We anticipate that targeted agents like LEE011 will provide new therapeutic options to patients with cancers of high unmet medical need”, said Harren Jhoti, Chief Executive Officer of Astex. “This new success is a further example of the productivity of our drug discovery partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, and follows on from our announcements in January 2010 and October 2010 that AstraZeneca has selected candidates from our collaborative PKB inhibitor and beta-secretase inhibitor programmes respectively.”

Photo credit: Human colon cancer cells by Wellcome images via Flickr

Image: B0006254 Human colon cancer cells Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://images.wellcome.ac.uk Human colon cancer cells in culture. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in Britain. People are more likely to develop this cancer if they eat a diet high in animal fats. Scanning electron micrograph 2006 Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 UK, see http://images.wellcome.ac.uk/indexplus/page/Prices.html