Astex and Cardiff University Medicines Discovery Institute to collaborate on neurodegenerative diseases

MDI Biosciences Cardiff University. Photo/Cardiff University
MDI Biosciences Cardiff University. Photo/Cardiff University

Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK), a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics for oncology and diseases of the central nervous system and The Medicines Discovery Institute, Cardiff University (MDI) have entered into a multi-year, multi-million-pound drug discovery research collaboration, aimed to identify new drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases.  

The collaboration brings together the work of Emyr Lloyd-Evans and Helen Waller-Evans in lysosomal biology, the drug discovery capabilities of the MDI and the fragment-based drug discovery platform at Astex Pharmaceuticals. 

The combined teams will focus on identifying compounds that modulate lysosomal activity as a way to develop potential new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases with high unmet medical need.  Lysosomes are a subset of organelles that are crucial for cellular function and mutations in the genes encoding lysosomal and associated proteins are linked to a number of neurodegenerative and lysosomal storage diseases for which there are currently no effective treatments. 

Under the terms of the agreement, scientists at the MDI and Astex Pharmaceuticals will collaborate to carry out drug discovery research against a chosen lysosomal target with the aim to identify and optimize compounds that modulate its activity.  

R&D funding from Astex Pharmaceuticals

Cardiff University will receive committed R&D funding and is eligible to receive development and regulatory payments if drug compounds progress and a royalty payment on the sales of any approved products.  Further financial details are not disclosed.  

Simon Ward, director, MDI, said: “We are excited to be working with Astex in a way that allows each partner to play to its individual strengths and build a combined team which is greater than the sum of its parts. This is a validation of the scientific and translational capabilities we have been building at Cardiff University over the last few years and we look forward to delivering outputs that may ultimately benefit patients for whom current treatment options are so limited. This is an excellent demonstration of the power of academic and industrial teams working together to try to solve currently intractable medical problems.”

David Rees, chief scientific officer of Astex, said: “We are very excited about this opportunity to work with Cardiff University, Medicines Discovery Institute. Astex has a long tradition of effective collaborations between academia and industry which we believe is critical for the successful translation of basic science. This partnership aims to support and advance ground-breaking research with the potential to transform the lives of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”

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