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Astex Therapeutics and Novartis ink cancer drug deal
January 2006
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CAMBRIDGE, England—Astex Therapeutics announced in early December a new strategic alliance with Novartis focused on the research, development and commercialization of novel cell cycle control drugs for the treatment of cancers and other human diseases. The agreement grants Novartis a worldwide license to Astex's novel oral cell cycle inhibitor, AT9311, currently completing IND-enabling preclinical studies, and an option for a global license to Astex's parenteral cell cycle inhibitor, AT7519, currently in Phase 1 clinical trials. AT7519 and AT9311 were both discovered using Astex's proprietary fragment-based drug discovery platform, Pyramid.
 
In addition, the companies are to establish a new drug discovery alliance focused on the identification of novel inhibitors of other cell cycle control enzymes.
 
The deal provides Astex with an up-front payment and deferred equity commitment totalling $25 million, as well as research funding, development reimbursements, milestones during clinical development and registration, and fees in relation to Novartis' exercise of its option to AT7519. Astex will also receive royalties on sales of products discovered and developed under the collaboration, including royalties from the co-commercialization of AT9311 and AT7519.
 
Total funding under the collaboration, excluding royalties, could reach $520 million assuming AT9311, AT7519 and one other cell cycle control product are successfully commercialized.
 
"This agreement is a further example of Novartis' commitment to discovering and developing innovative cancer therapies to meet unmet medical need," says David Epstein, president, Novartis Oncology. "We have been impressed by Astex's ability to use its fragment-based approach to discover novel drug candidates, and to progress these quickly towards the clinic. The agreement brings important new assets to our oncology pipeline."
 
Peter Fellner, Chairman of Astex Therapeutics, said "It has become abundantly clear over the last two years, as evidenced by deal flow exceeding $1 billion, that Astex is able to consistently deliver new drug candidates to meet the growing demands of our pharmaceutical partners."
 
Under the terms of the agreement Astex will be responsible for completing the preclinical development and IND/CTA filing for AT9311, and for conducting an initial Phase I clinical study. Novartis will be responsible for all further clinical development and commercialization of AT9311 globally.

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