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AstraZeneca Announces Innovative New Partnership With Singapore Institutions to Develop Anti-Cancer Compounds

SINGAPORE, Aug. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) today announced an innovative new partnership with the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and the National University Hospital (NUH) to develop anti-cancer compounds. The collaboration, which is spelt out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed today, aims to further build AstraZeneca's drug development capabilities in Asia and ultimately speed up access to new medicines of potential benefit to patients with inoperable Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). HCC is a cancer that is particularly prevalent in Asia and accounts for approximately one million deaths annually worldwide.(1) Studies have also shown that more than 90 per cent of those afflicted with the cancer die within five years due to its inoperability.(1)

Dr. Brent Vose, Vice President of AstraZeneca's Oncology Therapeutic Area said: "AstraZeneca is committed to the research and development of new, targeted anti-cancer therapies in Asia to improve the lives of cancer patients, beginning with those affected by HCC. There is a huge unmet need for treatment of liver cancer in Asia, and particularly East Asia, where there are three-quarters of the world's HCC patients.(2) We have a number of promising candidates in development and look forward to seeing the results of some key studies throughout the next year."

Under the MOU, AstraZeneca and the Singapore institutions will be entering into a collaborative agreement that spans both clinical and pre-clinical development activities. The partnership also includes a Training Programme placement with the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, with whom AstraZeneca has a formal research alliance. Supported in part by the Singapore Economic Development Board, the training programme seeks to train a pool of clinical research professionals for both private-sector and public-sector research labs.

"Singapore is one of Asia's fastest growing bio-clusters and offers excellent IP protection, a population base representative of Asia, world-class scientific and clinical infrastructure as well as access to global talent," said Mr. Yeoh Keat Chuan, Executive Director, Biomedical Sciences, Singapore Economic Development Board. "AstraZeneca joins an expanding base of leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that have chosen to develop new drugs and therapies in Singapore. It is a strong testament of Singapore's capabilities in translational and clinical research, particularly in applications for diseases prevalent in Asia."

National Healthcare Group (NHG) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Lim Suet Wun says, "165 out of 1,069 ongoing research studies in NHG focus on Oncology. The collaboration with AstraZeneca will provide an excellent platform for our researchers and research support team to access renowned expertise and facilities at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, all with the aim to develop impactful outcomes for cancer patients."

Caroline Shaw, Chief Executive of the Christie Hospital, a founding partner of Manchester Cancer Research Centre together with The University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK said "The Christie Hospital is world renowned for its radiation related research and investigative clinical trials. We are proud that the quality of our training in these disciplines is recognised and has been assimilated as a foundational activity in this exciting partnership with Asia"

Under the terms of the clinical development collaboration, two of Singapore's leading research institutions -- the NCCS and NUH -- will be given access to AstraZeneca compounds which have already undergone initial clinical testing in the West.

Two AstraZeneca compounds(3), have already been identified for clinical screening in inoperable HCC by the institutions during 2008 and 2009. Further compounds will be made available at a rate of one per year, for the duration of the partnership, which is in place until 2012.

Professor Soo Khee Chee, NCCS Director and Assistant CEO (Research and Education) of SingHealth, said: "NCCS has a very active research programme run by high quality scientists who have produced some significant outcomes in liver cancer research. This collaboration will give our researchers and clinician scientists another opportunity to make a positive contribution that can benefit all cancer patients. Because of our wide patient base, our teams are better exposed and experienced in all types of cancer. Our large base has allowed us to carry out meaningful and effective clinical trials."

Pre-clinical activities are also included in the partnership, under the terms of which the same institutions will be given annual access to up to six novel candidate drugs for appraisal of activity in the mouse in vivo primary HCC explant model.(4)

For both clinical and pre-clinical activities, AstraZeneca retains the option to assume further development and marketing of all drugs made available as part of the partnership deal.

"This partnership with AstraZeneca is testament to the standard and quality of research in Singapore. We will work closely together to develop new anti-cancer therapies for Asian patients through access to some of AstraZeneca's clinical and pre-clinical compounds and world-class training of our researchers at MCRC," said Associate Professor Goh Boon Cher, Senior Consultant, Dept of Haematology-Oncology, National University Hospital.

Notes to Editors:


AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in research, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and supplier for healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of US $29.55 billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection product sales. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) is the premier cancer research and treatment facility in Singapore and in the region. It was established in 1997 and sees about 68 per cent of the public sector medical oncology cases and 74 per cent of radiation oncology cases. NCCS not only houses the most number of oncologists in Singapore but is also equipped with the largest number of equipment to provide the latest radiation oncology care in Singapore.

National University Hospital

The National University Hospital (NUH) is a specialist hospital that provides advanced, leading-edge medical care and services. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities as well as dedicated and well-trained staff, NUH is a major referral centre that delivers tertiary care for a wide range of medical specialties including Cardiology, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery. Backed by substantive expertise and experience, the NUH has been chosen by the Ministry of Health to develop two new national specialist centres to meet the growing need for heart and cancer treatments.

NUH, together with the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Faculty of Dentistry, are under the common governance of the National University Health System (NUHS). Formed in January 2008, NUHS provides a unified platform for these three entities to create greater synergies to achieve its tripartite mission of excellence in clinical care, translational clinical research and education. With combined capabilities and facilities (from the teaching hospital and medical faculty), the NUHS will be able to meet the healthcare needs of patients, train future generations of doctors more effectively, and help develop solutions to our healthcare problems through research.

In 2004, the NUH became the first Singapore hospital to receive Joint Commission International (JCI) Accreditation, an international stamp for excellent clinical practices in patient care and safety. It was also the first hospital in Singapore to receive a triple ISO certification concurrently for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems in 2002.

Manchester Cancer Research Centre

The Manchester Cancer Research Centre is a partnership between The University of Manchester, Cancer Research UK and the Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. It aims to make Manchester one of the world's leading cancer research centres by 2015.

For media enquiries, please contact:


Edelman for AstraZeneca in Singapore:

Yanni Yoong/Karen Lin

Tel: 6347 2304 / 6347 2334


Lotta Boman

Tel: +46 8 553 236 73

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Carol Ang

Tel: +65 62369424

National University Hospital

Lisa Ang

Tel :(65) 6772 5117

Manchester Cancer Research Centre

Alicia Custis

Reference List

1) E. Teo, K. Fock (2001), Digestive Diseases Clinical Reviews, Vol. 10, No. 4, Liver Cell Cancer.

2) D. Twinberrow (2004), Pharma Focus Asia, Issue 5, Liver Cancer Treatment in Asia, p. 11

3) Compounds:

AZD6244 (ARRY-142886)

This development compound is a selective inhibitor of MEK 1/2, which blocks pathways implicated in cancer cell growth. AstraZeneca is leading the way in unlocking the potential of MEK inhibitors in the treatment of cancer. Targeting MEK dependant tumours offers an exciting opportunity to develop a more personalised, targeted approach to the treatment of cancer.


This is a selective cytokinesis inhibitor with specificity for Aurora B kinase. Aurora A and B have been shown to be over-expressed in a broad range of tumours.

4)Hung Huynh et al (2006),Clin Cancer Res;4309, Vol 12 (14) July 15

SOURCE AstraZeneca
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