AZ financial backing to fuel PTC oncology cures

AstraZeneca and PTC Therapeutics are joining forces for cancer cures, using  PTC's proprietary discovery/development technology platform. AZ will front an undisclosed amount of cash to start work on the first oncology target. The drug giant has also agreed to "committed research funding," according to an announcement.

The platform, called Gene Expression Modulation by Small-molecules (GEMS), helps researchers develop small-molecule drugs that can increase or decrease the expression of a specific protein by targeting its regulatory mechanisms.

PTC is in line for "significant" milestone payments in the deal, under which AZ gets global commercialization rights. PTC retains an option to participate in the development of select candidates. AstraZeneca will pay tiered royalties on worldwide net sales.

Oncology drugs, one of AZ's six major therapy areas, provided 13% of its 2010 revenues, lagging cardio, neuroscience, gastrointestinal, and respiratory treatments, notes Seeking Alpha contributor Charlie Anderson.

- here's the announcement
- see Seeking Alpha's AZ profile