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Astex and Cardiff University Medicines Discovery Institute Announce New Drug Discovery Collaboration on Neurodegenerative Diseases

Cambridge and Cardiff, UK, 13 February 2023, 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 and The Medicines Discovery Institute, Cardiff University (“MDI”) announced today that they have entered into a multi-year, multimillion pound drug discovery research collaboration, aimed to identify new drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases.  

The 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 fragment-based drug discovery platform at Astex. The combined teams 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 linked to a number of neurodegenerative and lysosomal storage 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 University 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.  

Prof 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 combined 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.”

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 and advance ground-breaking research with the potential to transform the lives of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2023