AstraZeneca to collaborate with Cancer Research UK in screening for new cancer medicines at the AstraZeneca MRC UK Centre for Lead Discovery

Friday, 28 November 2014

AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK today announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding through which Cancer Research UK drug discovery investigators would be given access to state-of-the-art drug discovery facilities at the new AstraZeneca MRC UK Centre for Lead Discovery to be built in Cambridge.

As part of the five-year collaboration scientists from Cancer Research UK, through it’s Drug Discovery Units, will benefit from unprecedented access to over two million molecules in AstraZeneca’s compound library and world class screening tools at the facility which will be located within the new AstraZeneca site at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

High-throughput screening methods will be used to identify lead compounds within the compound library including fragment-based lead generation, in which small chemical fragments are screened against drug targets; screening of a collection of compounds potentially useful for blocking kinase drug targets, and phenotypic screens to identify active compounds within cells that could be starting points for new drugs.

Cancer Research UK and AstraZeneca screening scientists will work alongside each other on up to five drug screens annually. Cancer Research UK will decide which novel cancer drug discovery projects to investigate and AstraZeneca has the option to negotiate a commercial license with Cancer Research Technology, Cancer Research UK’s commercial arm, to progress the most promising candidates through further drug discovery and development.

Alexa Smith, Cancer Research UK’s Head of Translational Research Funding said: “Having access to AstraZeneca’s extensive compound library and innovative drug discovery technology will help our researchers quickly translate new discoveries into patient benefit. We hope this initial proposed agreement will develop into a longer term arrangement that will boost our drug discovery capabilities further, with scope to develop similar strategic partnerships with other leading drug discovery organisations in future.”

Chris Watkins, Director of Translation and Industry at the MRC, said: “It’s fantastic to see the AstraZeneca MRC UK Centre for Lead Discovery attracting another potential innovative collaboration so soon after its inception. Cancer Research UK will bring world-leading expertise in oncology research that fits well with the collaborative spirit of the planned MRC and AstraZeneca partnership and contribute further to building a thriving UK research base and closer engagement between academic and industry scientists.”

Menelas Pangalos, Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines and Early Development, AstraZeneca said: “We’re delighted to build on our strong relationship with Cancer Research UK. This research programme at the AstraZeneca MRC UK Centre for Lead Discovery demonstrates how we will create a truly permeable research environment at our new site in Cambridge. We intend for our scientists to work alongside leading Cancer Research UK scientists, taking advantage of our world-class facilities, to push the boundaries of science and accelerate oncology drug discovery.”


About the AZ MRC UK Lead Discovery Centre

The AZ MRC UK Lead Discovery Centre will sit within the new AstraZeneca site at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, due to be completed in 2016. It will provide a unique capability within UK academia and will see world-class MRC-supported researchers working side-by-side with scientists in AstraZeneca’s High Throughput Screening group, identifying new methods to better understand a range of diseases and potential treatment options. Additional academic scientists, like those from Cancer Research UK, will work within the centre for agreed periods of time to take advantage of the facilities to accelerate drug discovery.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:

About Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. The charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated. Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years. Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses. Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1861 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

About Cancer Research Technology

Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, the world's leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Further information about CRT can be found at


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