Astex and MSD Expand Drug Discovery Collaboration

15.08.2023 - UK-based Astex Pharmaceuticals, specialized in the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics for oncology and diseases of the central nervous system, announced an exclusive worldwide research collaboration and license agreement with US drugmaker MSD (in the US, the company trades as Merck & Co).

The goal of the collaboration is to identify small molecule candidates with activity towards a tumor suppressor protein for the treatment of cancer.

“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," said Harren Jhoti, president and CEO of Astex.

Astex will apply its fragment-based drug discovery platform to develop compounds targeting multiple forms of the p53 tumor suppressor protein and provide MSD with lead compounds for further optimization and preclinical development.

Under the terms of the agreement, MSD is granted an exclusive global license to research, develop, and commercialize candidates arising under the collaboration. Astex will receive an upfront payment of $35 million and is eligible for milestone payments associated with the achievement of preclinical, clinical, regulatory and sales milestones, totaling approximately $500 million per program, as well as tiered royalties on sales of any products arising from the collaboration.

MSD will assume responsibility for funding all future research and development of lead candidates as well as commercialization of products globally.

“At MSD we are committed to driving innovation with the goal of improving outcomes for patients with cancer,” said George Addona, MSD’s senior vice president discovery and translational medicine.