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Plan to reinvigorate shelved cancer drugs

Charity to begin trials of anti-cancer agents whose development has fallen by the wayside

Cancer Research UK has announced plans to breath new life into cancer drug development by launching clinical trials of shelved pharmaceutical and biotech products.

The initiative, Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP), aims to increase the number of successful new cancer treatments by taking undeveloped anti-cancer drugs. It is targeted at pharma and biotech firms who have a large pool of molecules that have anti-cancer properties.

CDP is a partnership between Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology, the charityís development and commercialisation arm.

Under the plan, CDP will take ëdeprioritisedí anti-cancer drugs into early stage clinical trials through the charityís drug development office. Effectively the charity will ëborrowí a drug from a company; if the drug shows promise in the trials, the company retains the option to develop and market the drug, with the charity receiving a share of any revenues.

Companies will also retain intellectual property rights to their molecules along with first option to view the trial data.

ìThe drug companies have these potential treatments trapped in their pipelines and we have the expertise and capacity to release this potential,î said Cancer Research Technology chief executive, Harpal Kumar.

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry medical director, Dr Richard Tiner described the plan as ìa simple, rapid and cost-effective way in which pharmaceutical companies can boost their product linesî.

ìThe pharmaceutical industry is aware that it canít develop all the potential treatments it would like to because of its huge pipelines, so this initiative offers companies a unique opportunity to maximise the value of their shelved assets and develop new treatments for the benefit of cancer patients,î he added.

ìThere is a real potential here for us to develop a raft of new anti-cancer drugs,î said Cancer Research UK chief executive, Professor Alex Markham. ìThis may include new medicines to tackle the rarer cancers ñ those that tend to be lower down a business priority list because they are less profitable.î

Only about 8 per cent of all molecules tested in phase I trials ever make it to market, while the chances of anti-cancer drugs making it are even lower. Cancer Research UK said it hoped the plan would double the number of compounds it puts into early clinical trials over the next five years.

30th September 2008

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