Cancer Research Technology, the University of Manchester, and AstraZeneca are teaming up in search of new cancer drugs.

In one agreement, investigators at the University of Manchester’s Paterson Institute for Cancer Research will develop potential new drugs targeting a DNA damage-response protein. AstraZeneca will provide the preliminary compounds as well as the shape and structure of the target to best determine which compounds can interact with it.

Under the terms of this collaboration, AstraZeneca has first rights to the molecules discovered and can choose to continue further development after the agreement. For its part, Cancer Research Technology will receive royalty payments upon the achievement of certain milestones and has the option to develop the molecules further if AstraZeneca declines.

In a second agreement, scientists from the Paterson Institute are being invited to test a potential drug target against AstraZeneca’s compound collection at Alderley Park to see if any show potential as a new cancer drug. The organizations note that this is the first time the pharma giant has invited an external party to investigate compounds at its screening facility.

For this collaboration, AstraZeneca will provide clinical and molecular information on any promising molecules, while Paterson Institute researchers have the opportunity to develop to a defined stage. From there, AstraZeneca will have first rights of negotiation on any promising drug targets, the organizations said.

“Cancer Research U.K. and AstraZeneca have an ongoing collaboration to tap into the cancer research expertise in the U.K. to deliver investigator-led studies of combinations of novel agents,” Susan Galbraith, head of AstraZeneca’s Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit, said in a statement. “This highlights the growing strategic relationship between cancer scientists from U.K.-based biopharmaceutical companies, charities, and academic institutions.”

Added the Patterson Institute’s Donald Ogilvie, D. Phil.: “DNA damage causes cancer. By directly targeting this pathway for drug discovery we are getting to the heart of the disease.”

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