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12:00 AM
 | 
Jun 16, 2008
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Building small pyramids

Building small pyramids

By Mike Ward Senior Editor

Big pharma's willingness to pay up for preclinical approaches to hot targets was again confirmed last week when Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V. unit established a drug discovery alliance with Astex Therapeutics Ltd. to develop inhibitors of fibroblast growth factor receptor and two other cancer targets selected by Janssen.

FGF receptor is a receptor tyrosine kinase that activates MAP kinase and the protein kinase B/Akt pathways. It has been linked to many diseases including multiple myeloma (MM) and breast, prostate, colon and bladder cancers. FGF receptor signaling has been linked to angiogenesis, which may make it applicable to diseases beyond cancer.

The deal is potentially worth $500 million if products from each program are successfully commercialized in all territories. It is likely the deal will provide Astex with $37.4 million over the next two years, through undisclosed upfront, equity and committed research funding.

"The deal, in addition to the cash we already have in hand, will provide us with two years of runway without having to do anything else," Astex CEO Harren Jhoti told BioCentury. The company had been flagged as a potential IPO candidate, but market conditions have put...

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