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AstraZeneca, MedImmune and Cambridge Neuroscience announce 3-year collaboration

AstraZeneca and University of Cambridge strengthen long-standing partnership

Image credit: Allan Ajifo

AstraZeneca, its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, and the University of Cambridge today announced four new collaborations, building further on their existing partnership. The latest collaborations reinforce AstraZeneca’s commitment to creating a permeable research infrastructure in Cambridge following the company’s decision to locate one of its three global R&D centres and its global headquarters in the city that has been home to MedImmune’s biologics research laboratories for 25 years.

The agreements build on the existing strategic partnership between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge, which includes a substantial oncology research programme and co-location of AstraZeneca scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, the largest single facility conducting cancer research in the University of Cambridge.

Patrick Maxwell, Regius Professor, University of Cambridge’s School of Clinical Medicine, says: “These exciting new collaborations will strengthen even further the strategic partnership between the University of Cambridge and AstraZeneca ahead of the company’s relocation to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. This Campus is the centrepiece of the largest biotech cluster outside the United States, a truly world class environment in which to conduct research aimed at transforming the lives of patients.”

The four agreements involve:

Neuroscience research

A three-year collaboration between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge will focus on advancing research and development in neurodegenerative diseases, an area with a large unmet medical need. Scientists from all three parties will collectively address gaps in drug discovery, translational biomarkers and personalised healthcare approaches for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. The University of Cambridge will contribute world-leading expertise in disease biology, experimental models and tissue samples, while AstraZeneca and MedImmune will provide access to molecular tools, screening capabilities and leading drug development expertise to enable novel target and biomarker discovery and validation. The research will be carried out at MedImmune and the University of Cambridge laboratories, with opportunities for investigators to work alongside each other and share knowledge.

“This strategic partnership will promote an increased understanding of disease mechanisms and enable work in basic neuroscience to address unmet therapeutic needs in a variety of serious neurodegenerative diseases,” said Professor Alastair Compston, Professor of Neurology, speaking on behalf of Cambridge Neuroscience, University of Cambridge. “We look forward to working with scientists from MedImmune and AstraZeneca to increase knowledge on brain function and apply this to common neurological conditions.”

Access to AstraZeneca pipeline compounds

A pivotal Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) through which investigators from the University of Cambridge can access key compounds from AstraZeneca’s pipeline for investigation, such as the EGFR inhibitor AZD9291 for non-small cell lung cancer, olaparib, a PARP inhibitor, AZD2014, an mTOR inhibitor and AZD5363 an AKT inhibitor.

PhD programme to support future leaders in science

The collaboration between MedImmune and the University of Cambridge includes a doctoral training programme whereby PhD candidates will spend significant time at the University of Cambridge and in MedImmune’s laboratories, jointly supervised by the organisations during their four-year studentship.

Entrepreneur-in-residence programme

This programme will offer guidance and mentorship to academic researchers at the University of Cambridge who are considering the broader application and commercial potential of their scientific programmes. MedImmune will provide support and advice on a range of key issues tailored to the individual academic’s needs such as: drug and technology development, business planning, intellectual property, market opportunity, partnering approaches and securing investment.

“We are excited to establish this prestigious strategic alliance between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge to progress high quality scientific research,” said Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, MedImmune. “We will work together to discover and develop new medicines that could have a significant impact on the health of patients with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.”

“In a world where partnerships and collaborations drive medical progress, deepening our roots in the vibrant Cambridge life science ecosystem offers compelling advantages for AstraZeneca. These new agreements bring us closer with the world-class academic investigators at the University of Cambridge and enable us to support the strong research talent base in the UK,” said Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca Vice President of Innovative Medicines & Early Development.

Posted on 16/10/2014

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