ASTEX GETS IND APPROVAL FOR CANCER DRUG AT9283

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UK-based Astex Therapeutics has reported that the U.S. FDA has approved its investigational new drug (IND) application for the clinical development of its proprietary aurora kinase inhibitor, AT9283, for the treatment of cancer. This is the company's second IND approval in less than a year -- the compound AT7519 is already in Phase I trials in the U.S. and in the UK.

"We are delighted both to have been given the go-ahead by the regulatory authorities to advance AT9283 into clinical development, and to be working with some of the world's leading cancer experts on our clinical program," said Harren Jhoti, chief scientific officer and acting ehief executive of Astex. "This second IND underscores the productivity of our fragment-based discovery engine."

AT9283 is an inhibitor of mitosis (cell division), and has been shown to arrest tumor growth in a range of tumor models. Aurora kinases -- restricted by the drug -- play a key role in mitotic control in cell division. Both aurora A and B are over-expressed in many cancerous tumors, and are though to be excellent targets for anticancer therapy.