Astex starts Phase I study on new anti-cancer compound

Cambridge Enterprise portfolio company Astex Therapeutics has started a Phase I study on a new anti-cancer compound, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, the Institute of Cancer Research and Cancer Research Technology.

The compound, known as AZD5363, is a Protein Kinase B (PKS, also known as Akt) inhibitor, selected in January 2010 by AstraZeneca subsequent to its collaborative programme with Astex.

The collaborative programme originated from an earlier Astex collaboration with the Institute of Cancer Research and Cancer Research Technology Limited which began in 2003.

This is the second of our partnered programmes to commence human clinical trials, and is a further example of the productivity of our drug discovery partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies.

Harren Jhoti

AZD5363 is an orally active selective inhibitor of PKB/Akt, a key enzyme in the PI3K/PKB/mTOR tumour cell survival pathway, and dysregulation of this pathway leads to tumour resistance to a number of important anti-cancer drugs. Inhibition of PKB/Akt has potential in the treatment of a broad range of cancer types.

The Phase I study, being conducted at multiple centres in Europe, is designed to investigate the safety, tolerability and preliminary anti-cancer activity of AZD5363 in patients with advanced solid tumours, and to identify a dose and schedule that can be used in Phase II trials.

Commenting on the announcement, Harren Jhoti, Chief Executive Officer of Astex, said: “We are delighted that the long-standing collaboration between AstraZeneca, Astex, The Institute of Cancer Research and Cancer Research Technology, has delivered this exciting new compound. We anticipate that targeted agents like AZD5363, when fully researched, will provide new therapeutic options to patients with cancers of high unmet medical need. This is the second of our partnered programmes to commence human clinical trials, and is a further example of the productivity of our drug discovery partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies.”

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