AstraZeneca to Increase Work on Research

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca unveiled plans to boost its work in the infectious disease and cancer research with a $100 million (77 million euros) funding injection into its research and development center near Boston.

AstraZeneca, which has acknowledged it needs to do more to boost its thin pipeline of future drugs, said it planned to physically expand the R&D center in Waltham, Massachusetts, adding 100 research jobs to the existing 400.

"This investment will significantly boost our research capabilities in two critical areas of medical need," said Chief Executive Officer David Brennan. "It will provide additional resources for our scientists who are tackling more complex diseases than ever before."

Construction on the new facility will begin in the first quarter of this year and is due to be completed by mid-2009.

Brennan said last year that strengthening the drugmaker's pipeline was his "No. 1 priority" after a number of notable failures.

AstraZeneca announced earlier this month that it was teaming up with Bristol-Myers to develop and market two diabetes treatments that were discovered by Bristol-Myers.

Under the deal, AstraZeneca will pay up to $1.25 billion (960 million euros) to become a marketing and development partner in two drugs being developed by Bristol-Myers, including a promising treatment, saxagliptin.

The agreement gives Bristol-Myers the cash needed for research and a shareholder dividend. The money also will provide marketing support for drugs that will enter a competitive field.

AstraZeneca also recently acquired licenses for three new trial drugs and bought privately held biotech company KuDOS Pharmaceuticals.