Astex claims its approach to developing drugs for diseases like cancer is more likely to succeed than conventional methods. The company is pioneering the use of x-ray crystallography to identify new cancer drugs. It is currently working with Astra Zeneca on compounds for a drug that treats Alzheimer’s, with Astra Zeneca funding Astex’s research programme and paying royalties. Venture capital of £51m was raised between 2001 and 2003. Last year it acquired a German company, Metagen. Although Astex continues to make substantial losses, sales have grown 170% a year from £371,000 in 2001 to £2.7m in 2003.
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