Astex expands collaboration with MSD

Betsy Goodfellow | August 8, 2023 | News story | Business Services Astex pharmaceuticals, Merck, Oncology, collaboration, small molecules 

Astex Pharmaceuticals has announced an exclusive worldwide research collaboration and license agreement with MSD (known as Merck in the US), with the intention of identifying small molecule candidates with activity towards a tumour suppressor protein in order to treat cancer.

Under terms of the agreement, Astex is expected to apply its fragment-based drug discovery platform to develop compounds which can target the p53 tumour suppressor proteins, providing MSD with lead compounds for further optimisation and preclinical development. MSD has an exclusive license to research, develop and commercialise candidates which arise from this collaboration, however Astex will receive an upfront payment of $35m as well as being eligible for further milestone payments.

Harren Jhoti, president and CEO of Astex, commented: “Astex is applying its fragment-based drug discovery capability to design and generate small molecule modulators tailored to a wide range of potentially important therapeutic targets. This new alliance builds on our existing productive collaboration and allows us to combine our expertise and assets with MSD’s wide-ranging oncology capabilities.”

George Addona, senior vice president of discovery and translational medicine at MSD, added: “At MSD we are committed to driving innovation with the goal of improving outcomes for patients with cancer. We look forward to building on our collaboration with the Astex team to advance this potentially impactful area of oncology research.”

Betsy Goodfellow

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