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Charities trial new GSK anti-cancer drug

Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology are to begin a phase I clinical trial of an anti-cancer drug from GSK

Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology (CRT) are to begin a phase I clinical trial of an anti-cancer drug from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

GSK's 1070916A, an aurora kinase inhibitor, is the third drug to enter Cancer Research UK's Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) programme, but the first that is ready to be used in patients. The aurora kinases are a group of natural enzymes, which play a key role in controlling cellular division.

Cancer Research UK will sponsor the trial, at the Institute of Oncology at St James's University Hospital in Leeds and Barts and The London's Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre in London. The trial will be managed by the charity's drug development office and will start within a year.

The phase I trial will be carried out on around 30 to 40 patients with advanced solid tumours, who have had all the treatments currently available. Cancer Research UK will carry out a further phase II trial if this one is successful.

Dr Victoria John, head of clinical partnerships at Cancer Research UK, said: "This deal brings our CDP portfolio to three and the total number of new drugs in our early preclinical and clinical pipeline to over 40, something we believe is testament to the specialist skills and capability of our drug development team."

CDP offers companies an alternative model to traditional out-licensing, which enables them to retain rights to the compound throughout the development programme. The programme launched in 2006 to increase the number of new treatments for cancer patients by taking anti-cancer agents considered low priority by industry and putting them into clinical trials.

Under the terms of the partnership, Cancer Research UK will fund the study through early clinical development. GSK will have an option to further develop and commercialise the molecule in exchange for future payments to Cancer Research UK. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

If GSK elects not to take the programme forward, the rights to the molecule will be given to CRT to secure an alternative partner.

Dr Keith Blundy, chief executive of CRT, said: "Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have always had to prioritise which agents they take into clinical development, but even more so in the current economic climate."

"This deal with GSK demonstrates how Cancer Research UK and CRT can work with industry to speed up the development of anti-cancer drugs that might otherwise remain on companies' shelves."

20th May 2009

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