AstraZeneca and University of Cambridge announce new collaborations

The agreements include a research collaboration, a Material Transfer Agreement, a doctoral training program and an entrepreneur-in-residence program

Kelsey Kaustinen
LONDON--AstraZeneca, along with MedImmune, its global biologics research and development arm, has announced the establishment of four new collaborations with the University of Cambridge, building on the organizations' existing relationship and encompassing a number of therapeutic areas.
 
The first of these agreements is a three-year collaboration between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge aimed at advancing research and development in neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists from all three organizations will seek to address the issues of drug discovery, translational biomarkers and personalized healthcare approaches for diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. The University will contribute experimental models and tissue samples, with AstraZeneca and MedImmune providing access to molecular tools and screening capabilities to support the discovery and validation of novel targets and biomarkers.
 
“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,” commented Prof. 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.”
 
The quartet of new deals also includes a Material Transfer Agreement that will provide University of Cambridge researchers with access to investigate key compounds within AstraZeneca's pipeline. Among those compounds are AZD2014, an mTOR serine/threonine kinase inhibitor in Phase 2 development against solid tumors; AZD5363, an AKT kinase inhibitor in Phase 2 development for the treatment of breast cancer; AZD9291, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor targeting advanced T790M+ non-small cell lung cancer; and olaparib, a PARP inhibitor being developed for the treatment of BRCAm PSR ovarian cancer.
 
“We are excited to establish this prestigious strategic alliance between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge to progress high-quality scientific research,” Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune, said in a statement. “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 addition, this partnership includes a doctoral training program in which Ph.D. candidates will spend significant time at both the University of Cambridge and at MedImmune's laboratories, where they will be jointly supervised by both organizations during their four years. An entrepreneur-in-residence program is also a feature of these agreements. This program will provide guidance and mentorship for academic researchers at the University of Cambridge considering broader or commercial applications of their programs. MedImmune will offer support and advice on issues that arise within the commercial field, including drug and technology development, business planning, intellectual property, market opportunity, partnering approaches and securing investment.
 
“In a world where partnerships and collaborations drive medical innovation, deepening our roots in the vibrant Cambridge life-science ecosystem offers compelling advantages for AstraZeneca,” Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of Innovative Medicines & Early Development at AstraZeneca, noted in a press release. “These new agreements will not only bring our teams closer to the world-class academic investigators at the University of Cambridge, but will also enable us to actively support the development of the next generation of leading scientists right here in the UK.”

 
SOURCE: AstraZeneca press release
 

Kelsey Kaustinen

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