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

CAMBRIDGE and CARDIFF, United Kingdom, Feb. 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 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.”

About Astex Pharmaceuticals

Astex is a leader in innovative drug discovery and development, committed to the fight against cancer and diseases of the central nervous system. Astex is developing a proprietary pipeline of novel therapies and has a number of partnered products being developed under collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies. Astex is a wholly owned subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., based in Tokyo, Japan.

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About Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research-intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems.

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About MDI

The Medicines Discovery Institute is the leading, university-based, CNS drug discovery group in Europe, delivering modern drug discoveries to improve treatments for neurological illnesses. Grounded in the academic & clinical excellence of Cardiff University, the team combines profound insight with industry-standard drug discovery. A robust pipeline of novel drug projects stretches from early drug screening through to human clinical trials, run at Cardiff. The Institute is led by Professors Simon Ward & John Atack.

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