Astex Strengthens Oncology Expertise -- Director of Oncology Joins Management Team


CAMBRIDGE, U.K., Nov. 12, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Astex Technology, the fragment-based drug discovery company, today announced the appointment of Dr John Lyons as Director of Oncology. Dr Lyons will oversee the pre-clinical development of drug candidates emerging from Astex's drug discovery projects in oncology and further expand the Company's growing capability in drug and clinical development.

Dr. Harren Jhoti, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Astex, said, "I am delighted that John has decided to join Astex. His excellent track record of translational drug development will allow Astex to accelerate its programs through pre-clinical development and into the clinic. This appointment marks a key milestone in Astex's growth as a drug discovery and development company."

"I have been impressed with Astex's unique approach to drug discovery and am excited to be involved in moving its first drugs through pre-clinical development and into the clinic," commented Dr Lyons. Dr Lyons has 14 years industrial experience of cancer biology and clinical development. He joins Astex from SuperGen Inc. (San Francisco), where, as Senior Director of Scientific Development, he was responsible for the pre-clinical and clinical development of Decitabine (Dacogena), a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor currently in Phase III trials in leukemias and Phase II combination trials in solid tumours. Prior to this, Dr Lyons spent 8 years at Onyx Pharmaceuticals were he led the development of BAY 43-9006, a Raf kinase inhibitor currently in Phase I/II studies in a number of cancer indications including colorectal, breast and non-small cell lung cancer and about to begin Phase III trials in renal cell carcinoma. Dr Lyons has a BSc in Biochemistry and Chemistry from University College Galway and a Masters degree in Chemistry (1986) and PhD (1989) from the University of Ulm, Germany.

About Astex

Astex is a fragment-based drug discovery company pioneering the use of high-throughput X-ray crystallography for the rapid identification of novel drug candidates. The Company's unique fragment-based drug discovery approach, termed Pyramida, utilizes protein crystal structures to detect the binding of drug fragments, which are then optimized into potent lead compounds. Facilitating this approach is Astex's integrated drug discovery platform, which covers all aspects of structure-based drug discovery including protein production, crystallization, structure determination, bioinformatics, computational and medicinal chemistry and biology and DMPK. Astex is focusing its drug discovery approaches on proprietary and public domain protein targets from families and/or pathways. This includes validated kinases, phosphatases and proteases implicated in human disease. Astex has drug discovery collaborations with Schering AG, AstraZeneca, Mitsubishi Pharma and with the Institute of Cancer Research, UK and Cancer Research Technology. The Company has further research agreements with another large pharmaceutical company and structural biology research collaborations with AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Mitsubishi Pharma and Fujisawa Pharma focused on solving novel cytochrome P450 crystal structures. For further information on Astex, please visit the Company's website at

 Astex Technology                   Noonan Russo Presence
 Dr. Harren Jhoti                   Veronica Cefis Sellar
 Chief Scientific Officer
                                      Tel: +44 (0) 20 7726 4452
   Dr Jeremy Carmichael               Web:
   Associate Director Business  Development

   Tel: +44 (0) 1223 226200

Please click on the link provided to view the full press release: