Adherex Technologies has secured a potential significant ally in its development of oncology products — the National Cancer Institute.

Adherex said on Friday that the NCI’s Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis had approved collaboration support for its lead anti-compound known as Exherin or ADH-1 with the caveat “provided additional preclinical studies be conducted”.

The assistance was approved based on a review of data developed so far by Adherex in preclinical and clinical studies.

“As part of the collaboration, the NCI’s Developmental Therapeutics Program and Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program will negotiate a cooperative research and development agreement with Adherex to sponsor clinical trials and additional preclinical studies of ADH-1,” Adherex said in a statement.

Adherex is currently conducting trials involving 41 patients, and more are scheduled in the United States and Europe.