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CRUK and AZ collaborate on cancer screening

Published on 28/11/14 at 07:49am
AZ campus image
AstraZeneca's Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) scientists are to be given access to drug discovery facilities at AstraZeneca’s Cambridge site as part of a new collaboration announced today.

In a statement the companies say that CRUK will have ‘unprecedented’ access to screening tools and over two million molecules in the compound library at AstraZeneca’s MRC UK Centre for Lead Discovery, which will be built at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Alexa Smith, Cancer Research UK’s head of translational research funding, says: “Having access to AstraZeneca’s extensive compound library and innovative drug discovery technology will help our researchers quickly translate new discoveries into patient benefit.

“We hope this initial proposed agreement will develop into a longer term arrangement that will boost our drug discovery capabilities further, with scope to develop similar strategic partnerships with other leading drug discovery organisations in future.”

High-throughput screening methods will be used to identify lead compounds for potential cancer drugs from the compound library.

This will include fragment-based lead generation – in which small chemical fragments are screened against drug targets – as well as the screening of a collection of compounds that could be useful for blocking kinase drug targets, and screens to identify active compounds in cells that could be starting points for new drugs.

Screening scientists from both companies will work together on up to five drug screens each year. CRUK will decide which cancer drug discovery projects to investigate and AZ has the option to negotiate a license with Cancer Research Technology (CRT) – CRUK’s commercial arm – to progress the most promising candidates through further development.

Menelas Pangalos who is AZ’s executive VP of innovative medicines and early development says: “We’re delighted to build on our strong relationship with Cancer Research UK. This research programme at the AstraZeneca MRC UK Centre for Lead Discovery demonstrates how we will create a truly permeable research environment at our new site in Cambridge.”

AstraZeneca also recently announced four new collaborations with the University of Cambridge, deepening its ties with the city’s life sciences ‘ecosystem’. The collaborations comprise neuroscience research, access to AZ’s pipeline compounds, PhD programmes to support future leaders in science, and an entrepreneur-in-residence programme.

George Underwood

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