September 12, 2010 / 11:11 PM / 9 years ago

UK charity to test experimental Astra cancer drug

LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca has agreed a deal with the commercial arm of a British charity to take an experimental cancer drug into early clinical trials.

The experimental compound, called AZD-3965, is one of a new class of cancer metabolism drugs and targets the monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT-1) which is essential in cell metabolism.

The idea is that by blocking MCT-1 the drug could limit cancer cells’ ability to generate energy, reducing their ability to survive, Cancer Research UK said Monday.

The drug will become the sixth anti-cancer drug in the charity’s clinical development partnerships project — a deal allowing drug companies to retain the rights to a potential treatment while the charity carries out early tests.

The project was launched in 2006 to increase the number of potential new medicines by taking molecules from drug firms and putting them into clinical trials. The work will be carried out by the charity’s development and commercialization arm, Cancer Research Technology (CRT).

“This clinical trial demonstrates how Cancer Research UK and CRT can work with industry to develop anti-cancer drugs that would otherwise remain on companies’ shelves,” said Ian Walker, CRT’s licensing manager for clinical partnerships.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca can decide if it wants to develop the drug further based on the clinical trial data results at the end of the Phase I/IIa trial.

If it chooses not to, the rights will be given to CRT to look for another potential partner to take the drug forward.

AstraZeneca signed a previous agreement with CRT in February for a three-year alliance to work on projects aiming to exploit the fact cancer cells use energy differently to normal cells.

The aim was to create new drugs that control cell metabolism in order to attack tumors whilst sparing normal tissues, and AstraZeneca has said it will take the most promising projects into pre-clinical and clinical drug development, sharing the risks and potential rewards with CRT.

Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Dan Lalor

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