GAITHERSBURG, Md. & BOSTON—In a research collaboration that will span three years, MedImmune, the global biologics and research development arm of AstraZeneca, and the Joslin Diabetes Center have teamed up to develop new medicines for the treatment of diabetes, obesity and related metabolic disorders. Researchers from both organizations will collaborate on research projects to identify potential drug candidates. So far, three initial projects have been identified; these will focus on approaches such as protecting and regenerating insulin-producing beta cells, increasing the caloric utilization of fat depots (“beiging” white fat or expanding brown fat) and replicating the beneficial effects of bariatric surgery pharmacologically.
"This partnership combines the discovery research and clinical care expertise at Joslin with MedImmune’s great development capabilities to hopefully move these projects from important new concepts to treatments that could benefit the patients we treat in our clinic and the millions of others like them across the globe suffering from metabolic diseases,” Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief academic officer of Joslin Diabetes Center, commented in a statement. Kahn will be heading up Joslin’s alliance team for this collaboration.
The agreement stipulates that MedImmune will provide Joslin with research funding and offer drug development expertise and capabilities to bolster Joslin's early metabolic disease research experience and clinical care infrastructure. MedImmune will have the option of licensing development and commercial rights to projects that result from this agreement. No financial details for the collaboration were released.
“Cardiovascular and metabolic disease (CVMD) is a main therapy area for MedImmune, and we are pleased to enter this new research partnership with Joslin Diabetes Center to identify and translate the most promising emerging science into novel drug development projects with the potential to help patients suffering with diabetes, obesity and other metabolic diseases,” Cristina Rondinone, vice president and head of MedImmune’s Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease Innovative Medicines Unit, said in a press release. “Joslin Diabetes Center is world-renowned for metabolic disease research and will be an important partner for MedImmune and AstraZeneca as we continue our commitment to improve diabetes management and care through the development of innovative medicines.”
In other partnering news, MedImmune announced on Feb. 20 that it had signed a five-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to jointly support research that could advance drug discovery and manufacturing, with a focus on tools and measurements for the development and production of biopharmaceuticals. MedImmune will provide first-year funding for seven NIST postdoctoral scientists, each of which will be working on a joint MedImmune/NIST research project. The research will be conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, which is the standard approach federal labs use to collaborate with nonfederal partners in deals involving technology transfer.
The collaborations under this agreement include the development of a new, sensitive form of Raman spectroscopy, helping researchers identify potential targets by creating a library of the mass spectra, developing methods to produce 3-D structural maps with resolution at the atomic level for monoclonal antibodies and using neutron beams to increase understanding at the molecular level as to why some proteins used in biopharmaceuticals unfold during the manufacture process.