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Astex and Cardiff University announce drug discovery collaboration

13 February 2023

A female scientist in a lab undertaking an experiment

The Medicines Discovery Institute at Cardiff University (“MDI”) has announced a collaboration with Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK) (“Astex”), a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics for oncology and diseases of the central nervous system.

The multi-year, multimillion pound drug discovery research collaboration brings together the world-leading research expertise of Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans & Dr Helen Waller-Evans in lysosomal biology, the drug discovery capabilities of the MDI and the structure-based drug discovery platform at Astex.

Professor Simon Ward, Director, Medicines Discovery Institute commented “We are excited to be working with Astex in a way that allows each partner to play to its individual strengths and build a team which is greater than the sum of its parts. This is a validation of the scientific and translational capabilities we have been building at Cardiff University over the last few years and we look forward to delivering outputs that may ultimately benefit patients for whom current treatment options are so limited. This is an excellent demonstration of the power of academic and industrial teams working together to try to solve currently intractable medical problems.”

The combined team will focus on identifying compounds which modulate lysosomal activity as a way to develop potential new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases with high unmet medical need. Lysosomes are a subset of organelles that are crucial for cellular function and mutations in the genes encoding lysosomal and associated proteins are associated with a number of neurodegenerative diseases for which there are currently no effective treatments.

Under the terms of the agreement, scientists at the MDI and Astex will collaborate to carry out drug discovery research against a chosen lysosomal target with the aim to identify and optimise compounds that modulate its activity. Cardiff will receive committed R&D funding and is eligible to receive development and regulatory payments if drug compounds progress and a royalty payment on the sales of any approved products. Further financial details are not disclosed.

Dr David Rees, FMedSci, FRSC, Chief Scientific Officer of Astex commented, “We are very excited about this opportunity to work with Cardiff University, Medicines Discovery Institute. Astex has a long tradition of effective collaborations between academia and industry which we believe is critical for the successful translation of basic science. This partnership aims to support ground-breaking research with the potential to transform the lives of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”

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