AstraZeneca boosts oncology arsenal with CDK9 inhibitor platform

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

AstraZeneca acquires CDK9 inhibitor platform and lead molecule
AstraZeneca acquires CDK9 inhibitor platform and lead molecule
AstraZeneca says the small molecule cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) inhibitor programme acquired from Probiodrug has the potential to target cancer cells.

The transfer of the CDK9 inhibitor programme announced last week includes Probiodrug’s proprietary drug delivery platform as well as a lead molecule and back-up compounds.

AstraZeneca spokesperson Ayesha Bharmal told cell cycle inhibitors fit within the firm’s overall oncology strategy and, though still in its infancy, the programme is showing potential.

“Inhibitors of the cell cycle regulating CDKs (in particular CDK4/6 and CDK1/2) are showing very promising clinical activity in cancer patients,”​ she told us.

“This deal gives us access to more selective chemical probes and some intellectual property and allows us to explore this area of emerging biology.”


CDKs are small proteins important in regulating the cell cycle progression and RNA transcription. CDK9 acts on several hormonal regulators and is involved in the regulation of immune response, inflammation, and cell differentiation.

“A variety of genetic events cause over-activity of the cell cycle CDKs in cancer, and their inhibition can lead to both cell cycle arrest and apoptosis,” ​Bharmal explained.

Such a platform could be important in a number of different types of cancer but, Bharmal continued, “the research is in a very early phase so it’s too soon to say exactly where the opportunity will lie or what the timescale will be for moving into clinical research phase.”

Probiodrug said the sale of the platform to AstraZeneca allowed itself to focus its resources on its Glutaminyl cyclase (QC) inhibitor programme for Alzheimer’s disease, with CFO Hendrik Liebers naming AstraZeneca as “an excellent party”​ to take over the CDK9 programme.

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Related topics: Drug Delivery, Delivery technologies

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