Astex ranked top biotech company for the second year running in The Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100


CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom, Oct. 5, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Astex Technology, the fragment-based drug discovery company, is again ranked as the fastest growing biotechnology company in the Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100 league of Britain's fastest growing technology companies, published Sunday 3rd October. Astex is one of only a small group of biotechnology companies to have made it onto the annual Tech Track 100 since the list was first compiled in 2001.

This last year has been a defining one for Astex with the first of its in-house developed oncology drugs expected to enter the clinic early in 2005. In addition, Astex signed a major new discovery deal in March 2004 with leading pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim and extended its collaboration with Aventis in June 2004. Astex was also rewarded by its pharmaceutical company partners for its drug discovery efforts - achieving a second milestone in its $40m drug discovery collaboration with AstraZeneca to develop drug candidates for Alzheimer's disease. Astex also has drug discovery deals with Schering AG, Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation and Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. The company has continued to achieve yearly sales growth of approximately 170% since 2000.

"We are really pleased to appear once again in this prestigious listing of Britain's fast growing technology companies as Britain's top biotech company. This achievement is a measure of the professionalism and dedication of Astex's people and is a tribute shared by everyone in the company," stated Mr. Timothy Haines, CEO of Astex.


 Astex Technology                      Brunswick Group LLP
   Tim J. Haines                         Jon Coles / Wendel Carson /
   Chief Executive                     Chi Lo
   Email:                                Tel +44 (0) 207 404 5959           Email:

Tel: +44 (0) 1223 226200 Web:

About Astex

Astex is a biotechnology company producing novel small molecule therapeutics. Using its pioneering fragment-based drug discovery approach, Astex has rapidly established a broad pipeline of next generation, molecularly targeted oncology drugs, the first of which will enter clinical trials in 2005.

Astex's leading position in fragment-based drug discovery derives from its integrated discovery engine, Pyramid(TM). High-throughput X-ray crystallography is used to identify drug fragments bound to target proteins and to transform the fragments, using efficient medicinal chemistry, into potent, selective lead compounds. Pyramid(TM) has been successfully applied across a wide variety of therapeutic targets, including those regarded as 'intractable' by the pharmaceutical industry, resulting in lead compounds for the potential treatment of cancer, inflammation and Alzheimer's disease.

Astex's unprecedented productivity in lead discovery has been endorsed by drug discovery alliances with major pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca, Aventis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Mitsubishi Pharma, Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. and Schering AG. Astex was established in 1999 and is well financed by leading, blue chip US and European investors (Abingworth, Advent International, Alta Partners, Apax, GIMV, HypoVereinsbank, Oxford Bioscience Partners, Schering AG and the University of Cambridge).

For further information on Astex please visit the Company's website at

About the league table

Now in its fourth year, The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 annual league table sponsored by Microsoft for the first time this year, is compiled by Oxford-based research company Fast Track and published with The Sunday Times business section on 3rd October and on The league table is co-sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hiscox insurance.

League table criteria

Companies are ranked according to their annual growth in sales between 2001 and 2003. Companies had to be registered in the UK as unquoted ultimate holding companies. The league table adopts the London Stock Exchange's techMARK definition of what constitutes a technology company. Companies primarily engaged simply in reselling or reassembly were excluded, as were IT consultancies that do not develop proprietary technology. Companies also had to forecast an increase in sales from 2003 to 2004, but were not required to be in profit.

The research was carried out by Fast Track between 15 April and 15 August 2004. All of the companies were interviewed by telephone and in addition the majority were also visited by the Fast Track research team.

About Fast Track

Fast Track is an Oxford-based research, publishing and networking events company that tracks Britain's top-performing private companies. In addition to the Tech Track 100 it also produces the Fast Track 100 league table, which is based on sales growth, the Profit Track 100, which is based on profit growth and the Top Track 100 ranking of the Britain's largest unquoted companies. Fast Track was set up and is run by Dr Hamish Stevenson, who is also an associate fellow of Templeton College, Oxford University.