NOVARTIS-ASTEX INK $520 MLN CANCER DRUG DEAL

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Novartis (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) has signed a cancer drug deal worth up to $520 million with private British biotech firm Astex Therapeutics, underlining the Swiss group's determination to build its presence in oncology. Novartis said on Tuesday that Astex's experimental cell cycle control treatments for cancer and other diseases had the potential to be the best in their class. Novartis has secured worldwide licensing rights to research, develop and sell its cell cycle inhibitor AT9311, currently in preclinical studies, and has an option for a global license to AT7519, which is in early-stage, or Phase I, clinical trials.

Reuters (http://today.reuters.com/business/newsArticle.aspx?type=ousiv&storyID=2005-12-06T130506Z_01_L06764096_RTRIDST_0_SP_PAGE_015-L06764096-OISHE.XML)