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MedImmune and CRUK team up on cancer

Published on 25/09/14 at 09:07am
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AstraZeneca’s biologics arm MedImmune has joined forces with Cancer Research UK to establish a new research laboratory in Cambridge, UK.

The new unit will focus on the discovery and development of novel biologic cancer treatments over an initial five-year period, and represents a unique partnership for both organisations.

The deal will use CRUK’s commercial arm, the Cancer Research Technology (CRT), to conduct the research. A number of pharma companies already have R&D pacts with the CRT, including MedImmune’s parent company AstraZeneca, as well as Astellas and Teva, although this is the first time CRUK has worked with a pharma company to develop a new lab.

As part of this latest collaboration, scientists from both organisations will work side-by-side on multiple oncology projects at the new ‘CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory’, as it is being called.

Cancer Research UK says in a statement that it will provide set-up and operational funding for the laboratory, and will also contribute a portfolio of novel drug targets together with a team of scientists.

For MedImmune’s side of the deal it will oversee the lab activities and provide access to its human antibody phage display libraries – and established antibody-engineering technologies. The joint team will share knowledge and expertise to discover and develop antibodies to treat cancer, according to the two groups.

“Oncology is a core therapeutic area for AstraZeneca and we are pleased to enter this strategic antibody discovery and development collaboration with Cancer Research UK, one of the leading charitable cancer research institutions in the world,” explains Bahija Jallal, executive VP at MedImmune.

“Our collaboration represents an innovative public-private business model for biologic drug development as we will share knowledge and expertise in a dedicated laboratory to discover potentially ground-breaking medicines for cancer patients.”

Biological therapies are also major priority in Cancer Research UK’s new research strategy, which includes a commitment to increase investment in this area over the next few years, according to the charity.

It adds that collaborations that unite leading researchers together with latest technology platforms are ‘a fundamental part’ of this strategy, helping turn new discoveries into treatments that can benefit patients as quickly as possible.

“The creation of the CRUK-MEDI Alliance laboratory underscores our strong commitment to building a broad science base across the UK and deepening our research roots here in Cambridge,” says Jane Osbourn, VP of R&D and Cambridge UK site leader at MedImmune.

“Through this transformative collaboration, Cancer Research UK will have access to MedImmune’s capabilities and technology to help them develop pre-clinical candidates, while MedImmune will benefit from access to Cancer Research UK’s principal investigators and scientists.”

Ben Adams 

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