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Cardiff University and Astex in drug discovery collaboration

The partnership will focus on essential new therapies across neurodegenerative diseases.

Astex Pharmaceuticals – a company that concentrates on the development of small molecule therapeutics – has formed a partnership with the Medicines Discovery Institute, Cardiff University (MDI).

The link-up is a multi-year, multimillion-pound drug discovery research collaboration that aims to identify new drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

It will bring together researchers – such as Dr Emyr Lloyd-Evans and Dr Helen Waller-Evans from Cardiff University – Astex’s fragment-based drug discovery platform and the drug discovery capabilities of the MDI.

Together the teams will concentrate on establishing compounds that modulate lysosomal activity as a system of developing potential treatments for neurodegenerative diseases with high unmet needs.

As part of the agreement, scientists at the MDI and Astex will undergo drug discovery research against a chosen lysosomal target with a view to identifying and optimising compounds that modulate its activity.

Meanwhile, Cardiff University will receive committed R&D funding and is eligible to receive regulatory payments if drug compounds progress.

Dr David Rees, chief scientific officer at Astex, is optimistic about the partnership: “We are very excited about this opportunity to work with Cardiff University, MDI. Astex has a long tradition of effective collaborations between academia and industry which we believe is critical for the successful translation of basic science.”

He added: “This partnership aims to support and advance ground-breaking research with the potential to transform the lives of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”

Professor Simon Ward, director at MDI, concluded: “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 that 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.”