Even as global pharmaceuticals major, AstraZeneca, announced the results of the study conducted on its advanced prostrate cancer treatment, the company is all set to acquire the rights to develop cancer treatment based on the initial work done by Cyclacel, a privately-held biotechnology company in the UK for an estimated $12 million.
For AstraZeneca, which is already the world's No. 2 in anti-cancer drugs, this move would go a long way in reinforcing its strong position in the fight against cancer. The acquisition price represents a significant payment for an early-stage product.
Set up three years ago to develop treatments based on the work of Professor Sir David Lane, Cyclacel is a biotechnology company that uses cell cycle biology and rational drug design chemistry to develop novel cancer therapeutics. Professor Lane is credited with the discovery of p53, a gene that prevents cancer by forcing damaged cells to commit suicide.
The development rights are based on a recent discovery by Cyclacel of a genetic switch that can stem cancer growth. Cyclacel and AstraZeneca are planning to collaborate in a two year project to discover synthetic compounds that mimic these natural tumour suppressors. The project would be done largely based on virtual reality software that will help researchers predict which molecular structures will switch off dividing cancer cells. Where AstraZeneca will lend a helping hand is to find out a practical way to turn the switch off and help turn virtual drugs into real chemicals.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca released the results of the largest of its kind study done to find out more about the therapeutic effects of its prostrate cancer drug, Casodex (generic name bicalutamide 150 mg). Casodex™ is one of five important AstraZeneca products whose growth is being fuelled by life cycle initiatives.
The study was conducted on men of age ranging between 38 to 93 years with localised and locally advanced prostate cancer. These men were given Casodex daily or placebo in addition to their standard care and were observed for time to clinical progression, overall survival and tolerability.
Evidence from the trials showed that time to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) doubling was significantly delayed in patients on Casodex compared with standard treatment alone. These findings give new hope that the mortality associated with prostate cancer could be reduced by early use of Casodex.