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AstraZeneca signs cancer biomarkers discovery deal

Partners with UK firm on personalised oncology drug research

AstraZeneca AZ research Lund Sweden 

AstraZeneca has signed a deal with UK-based Oxford Cancer Biomarkers (OCB) to develop a way to personalise one of its cancer drugs.

The agreement will see OCB research biomarkers that have the potential to predict who will or won't respond to the unnamed oncology medicine.

Nick McCooke, CEO of Oxford Cancer Biomarkers, said: “The discovery and development of biomarkers of drug response is becoming an essential component of cancer drug development and commercialisation. With more targeted treatments being made available for more defined patient populations, the need for companion diagnostics is growing.”

A spin-out of the University of Oxford, OCB's major investor is the pharmaceutical services firm Quintiles, with which it has a strategic relationship for biomarkers.

OCB's deal with AstraZeneca involves the pharma company taking an option to license biomarkers from the OCB's biomarker programme.

Commenting on the agreement with OCB AstraZeneca's vice president of clinical oncology Andrew Hughes said “identifying the right patients is key for the development of AstraZeneca's targeted oncology drugs”. 

The company set up a Personalised Healthcare and Biomarkers team in 2010, the year after its first personalised drug, Iressa (gefitininb), was launched in Europe as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

AstraZeneca now says that it is exploring a personalised approach for more than 20 per cent of its product pipeline, with work that covers every major therapy area in which it is active.

One early-stage candidate the company is holding up as a success story is AZD4547, a fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

Currently in phase I trials for gastric and breast cancers, AstraZeneca says it has “robust preclinical data” that will let it target the right patient population from the candidate's early development.

16th April 2013

From: Research



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