DUBLIN, Calif., July 8, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:ASTX), a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics, announced today its plan to submit an Investigational New Drug or IND application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ASTX727, a novel oral hypomethylating agent (HMA) in the fourth quarter of this year. ASTX727 is intended as a fixed dose oral combination product consisting of decitabine and E7727, a novel cytidine deaminase inhibitor (CDAi) licensed from Eisai Inc. ASTX727 allows for an efficient oral delivery of decitabine at low doses. Relevant animal studies revealed that the product can result in therapeutic exposures of decitabine at low doses. The profile of E7727 is expected to result in low inter-patient variability across doses of decitabine with little or no gastrointestinal safety issues. Later this year, preclinical data on ASTX727 will be submitted for presentation at a scientific meeting. "We are pleased to announce that ASTX727, in the late pre-clinical stage of development, becomes the third product in our epigenetic franchise that began with DACOGEN® (decitabine) for Injection. This franchise includes SGI-110, expected to enter Phase III clinical trials in 2014," commented James S.J. Manuso, Ph.D., Astex Pharmaceuticals chief executive officer and chairman. "The role of HMAs, in a wide range of therapeutic indications, is just beginning to be understood. ASTX727, potentially a best-in-class oral HMA, will be an important addition to our portfolio of medicines in clinical development." About ASTX727 Cytidine deaminase (CDA) is an enzyme that is responsible for the degradation of nucleosides, including decitabine and azacitidine. High levels of CDA in the gastrointestinal tract and liver rapidly degrade these nucleosides and prohibit or limit their oral bioavailability. E7727 is a proprietary and patented New Molecular Entity (NME) with a very wide therapeutic margin that inhibits CDA activity. Decitabine can be delivered orally and efficiently absorbed in the gut when it is combined with E7727 due to the inhibition of CDA by E7727. ASTX727 is being developed as a fixed dose oral product that combines E7727 and decitabine. This oral HMA with the potential to be best-in-class will enter clinical development in 2014. Astex has a worldwide license to E7727 from Eisai Inc.