Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology Initiate AT13148 Clinical Trial to Treat Several Cancer Types

Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology Initiate AT13148 Clinical
Trial to Treat Several Cancer Types

DUBLIN, Calif., Jan. 16, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
(Nasdaq:ASTX), a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and
development of novel small molecule therapeutics, today announced that
collaborators Cancer Research UK and its commercial arm Cancer Research
Technology (CRT) are launching a trial of an experimental drug shown to
simultaneously block many enzymes that control cancer cell growth and death.
The 'master-switch' experimental drug, owned by Astex Pharmaceuticals, is
being studied in a range of cancer types.

Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office (DDO) will fund, manage and
sponsor this early-stage Phase I clinical trial of up to 40 patients at The
Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden Hospital.

The drug, AT13148, is one of eight drugs to be developed through Cancer
Research UK's Clinical Development Partnerships program, which is a joint
initiative between the charity's DDO and CRT. The program develops promising
cancer drugs that pharmaceutical companies do not have the resources to
progress through early phase clinical trials to see if they can benefit cancer
patients. Without this program many promising drugs would be left on the
shelves gathering dust.

AT13148 is a multi-AGC kinase inhibitor that inhibits several enzymes in the
PI3K - AKT tumor cell survival pathway including protein kinase B (PKB/AKT)
and p70S6K. AT13148 shows a distinct mechanism of action from other AKT
inhibitors. Pre-clinical research was published recently (Clin. Cancer Res.;
2012,18(14); 3912-3923).

The molecule was originally discovered by scientists on the PKB drug discovery
program, a collaboration between Astex Pharmaceuticals, CRT and The Institute
of Cancer Research, which ran from 2003 through 2006.

Harren Jhoti, PhD, Astex Pharmaceuticals president and director said, "We are
very gratified with the progress that the collaboration has achieved and that
this work has progressed into the clinic."

Astex Pharmaceuticals can decide to develop the drug further based on the
Phase I/IIa clinical trial data. If it chooses not to, Cancer Research
Technology has the rights to secure an alternative partner and ensure the drug
has every possible chance of reaching patients.

Dr. Victoria John, head of clinical partnerships at Cancer Research UK's Drug
Development Office said, "We're delighted to open the first clinical trial of
this experimental drug to find out if it can benefit cancer patients in the
future. This molecule was brought to us at a very early stage in its
development and, with the preclinical work now completed, we're extremely
pleased it's obtained regulatory approval to enter the clinic."

About Astex Pharmaceuticals

Astex Pharmaceuticals is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel
small molecule therapeutics with a focus on oncology. The Company is
developing a proprietary pipeline of novel therapies and is creating de-risked
products for partnership with leading pharmaceutical companies. Astex
Pharmaceuticals developed DACOGEN® (decitabine) for Injection and receives
significant royalties on global sales.

For more information about Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., please visit
http://www.astx.com.

The Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. logo is available at
http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=12273

About The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) is one of the world's most influential
cancer research institutes. Scientists and clinicians at the ICR are working
every day to make a real impact on cancer patients' lives. Through its unique
partnership with The Royal Marsden Hospital and 'bench-to-bedside' approach,
the ICR is able to create and deliver results in a way that other institutions
cannot. Together the two organizations are rated in the top four cancer
centers globally.
The ICR has an outstanding record of achievement dating back more than 100
years. It provided the first convincing evidence that DNA damage is the basic
cause of cancer, laying the foundation for the now universally accepted idea
that cancer is a genetic disease. Today it leads the world at isolating
cancer-related genes and discovering new targeted drugs for personalized
cancer treatment.

As a college of the University of London, the ICR provides postgraduate higher
education of international distinction. It has charitable status and relies on
support from partner organizations, charities and the general public.

The ICR's mission is to make the discoveries that defeat cancer. For more
information visit www.icr.ac.uk

About The Institute of Cancer Research's Cancer Research UK Cancer
Therapeutics Unit

The Institute of Cancer Research's Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit
is the world's leading academic drug discovery team. It has discovered 16 new
drug candidates over the past six years, with six of these progressing to
Phase I clinical trial and one drug – abiraterone – being licensed in the US,
Canada and Europe for patients with advanced prostate cancer. This success was
recently recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research's Team
Science Award.

About Cancer Research Technology

Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialization 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 largest independent funder
of cancer research in the world. Further information about CRT can be found at
www.cancertechnology.com

About Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office

Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office has an impressive record of
developing novel treatments for cancer. It currently has a portfolio of around
35 new anti-cancer agents in preclinical development, phase I or early phase
II clinical trials. Since 1982, the Cancer Research UK Drug Development Office
has taken over 120 potential new anti-cancer agents into clinical trials in
patients, six of which have subsequently made it to market and many others are
still in clinical development. Marketed drugs include Temozolomide, a drug
discovered by Cancer Research UK scientists, that is an effective new
treatment for brain cancer and Abiraterone which was co-discovered by Cancer
Research UK scientists to treat advanced prostate cancer. Six other drugs are
in late development phase III trials. This rate of success is comparable to
that of any pharmaceutical company.

About Cancer Research UK

  *Cancer Research UK is the world's leading cancer charity dedicated to
    saving lives through research.
  *The charity's groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and
    treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.This work is funded
    entirely by the public.
  *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 beat cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to
support the charity, please call 020 3469 6699 or visit
www.cancerresearchuk.org

CONTACT: Timothy L. Enns
         Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
         Senior Vice President
         Corporate Communications & Marketing
         Tel: +1 (925) 560-2810
         E-mail: tim.enns@astx.com
        
         Alan Roemer
         The Trout Group
         Managing Director
         Tel: +1 (646) 378-2945
         E-mail: aroemer@troutgroup.com
        
         Susanna Chau
         Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
         Manager
         Investor Relations
         Tel: +1 (925) 560-2845
         E-mail: susanna.chau@astx.com
        
         Kari Watson
         MacDougall Biomedical Communications
         Senior Vice President
         Tel: +1 (781) 235-3060
         E-mail: kwatson@macbiocom.com

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