Cancer drug trial triggers $5m Astra cash for Chi-Med

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DRUGS giant AstraZeneca is to pay Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) $5 million (£3m) after the Aim-quoted medicine development firm began clinical trials of a cancer treatment, Volitinib, in China.

The FTSE 100 constituent signed a global licensing, co-development and commercialisation agreement with Hutchison MediPharma (HMP), one of Chi-Med’s joint ventures, in 2011.

Doctors in China will test Volitinib in patients to see if it inhibits the growth of a variety of tumours, including gastric cancer and lung cancer.

A clinical trial is already underway in Australia, with the results expected later this year.

Chi-Med – which is led by Scots-educated chief executive Christian Hogg – said that the trial in Australia would provide a guide for the starting doses for the work in China.

As well as carrying out research to see if ingredients from Chinese medicines can be used in modern drugs, Chi-Med has a consumer division that makes health and beauty products.

Shares in Chi-Med closed flat at 498.5p, valuing the company at about £260m.

Chi-Med floated in London in 2006 and is majority-owned by Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong-listed conglomerate that controls the 3 mobile phone network, along with investment interests in infrastructure, property and retail.