MedImmune taps Mirati for clinical trial collaboration

The companies will conduct a Phase 1/2 study of MedImmune's durvalumab combined with Mirati's mocetinostat

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GAITHERSBURG, Md. & SAN DIEGO—MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, has begun an exclusive clinical trial collaboration with San Diego-based Mirati Therapeutics Inc., an oncology company exploring genetic and epigenetic drivers of cancer. The companies will conduct a Phase 1/2 study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of durvalumab (MEDI4736), MedImmune’s investigational anti-PDL1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, in combination with mocetinostat, Mirati's investigational spectrum-selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor.
“The collaboration with Mirati is yet another example of our combination-focused immuno-oncology strategy and our comprehensive approach in lung cancer as a key disease area,” David Berman, senior vice president and head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines unit at MedImmune, said in a press release. “We continue to follow the scientific evidence to explore novel combination treatments to meet unmet patient need, with durvalumab as the cornerstone.”
MedImmune’s durvalumab works to counter tumors' ability to evade the immune system by blocking a signal that helps tumors avoid detection. For its part, mocetinostat works by selectively inhibiting Class I HDAC enzymes, which could potentially enhance the positive effect of checkpoint inhibitors such as durvalumab on tumor immunity. MedImmune and Mirati will initially explore the drug combination in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, with the potential to expand into additional indications in the future.
“There is a growing body of evidence that mocetinostat may enhance the efficacy of immune check-point inhibitors such as PD-L1 antibodies. Mocetinostat selectively targets specific HDACs that may increase the efficacy of durvalumab in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, as well as other tumor types. We look forward to working with MedImmune on this combination to potentially improve future outcomes for patients,” commented Charles M. Baum, Mirati's president and CEO, in a statement about the deal.
Per the terms of the deal, Mirati will fund and conduct the initial Phase 1/2 clinical trial (slated to start next year), with MedImmune supplying durvalumab. Should the trial yield positive results, MedImmune has an exclusive period of time in which it can negotiate a commercial license for the combination in non-small cell lung cancer.
This is the second partnership in as many weeks for MedImmune, which closed July with the announcement that it had entered into a multi-project research collaboration with the University of Sheffield to generate breakthrough research in cell factory technology. The collaboration will run five years, and MedImmune will provide funding and in-kind contributions to support post-doctoral and doctoral research projects at the University of Sheffield that address key challenges in cell engineering.
“We are pleased to enter into this strategic collaboration with the University of Sheffield to generate transformative cell factory tools that can potentially improve the way new therapies are delivered to patients,” remarked Gail Wasserman, senior vice president of Biopharmaceutical Development at MedImmune. “This multi-year commitment provides MedImmune with a strong partner in cell factory research and may allow select complex proteins to be more rapidly and effectively manufactured to produce life-changing therapies.”

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