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Firms join hands in anticancer drug deal

DRUG developers AstraZeneca Plc and Merck & Co said yesterday that they will jointly develop a combination treatment for cancer.

The firms said they will combine efforts with Merck's MK-2206 and AstraZeneca's AZD6244, both of which are still in very early development.

They said in a statement that pre-clinical studies - the laboratory phase of development - indicate the combination has potential as an anticancer drug.

The drug candidates are currently in separate early-stage studies involving people. Under the deal, the firms will jointly evaluate the combination in a Phase I clinical trial. They will share development costs.

Decisions on further development will be based on the early-stage study.

The early stages of drug development focus mainly on whether the compound is safe and can reach its intended target.

They normally only involve a small population of patients. Results from later stages of development, involving a higher number of patients, are used to see if a treatment actually works.


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