GAITHERSBURG, Md. & SEATTLE—A new collaboration was struck this week between MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and biopharmaceutical company Juno Therapeutics Inc. under which the companies will conduct combination clinical trials in immuno-oncology with one of Juno's investigational CD19-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell candidates and MEDI4736, MedImmune’s investigational programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) immune checkpoint inhibitor. MEDI4736 is also in Phase 3 clinical development in non-small cell lung cancer as well as head and neck cancer. The OCEANS program is evaluating the compound as a monotherapy and in combination with a CTLA-4 (tremelimumab) in lung cancer. In head and neck cancer, it is also being evaluated as a monotherapy and in combination with tremelimumab as well.
“We are pleased to enter into this clinical trial collaboration with Juno Therapeutics as our initial venture into the promising emerging field of CAR T cell therapies,” Dr. Ed Bradley, senior vice president and head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines unit at MedImmune, said in a press release. “The combination of Juno’s CAR T cell candidate with MEDI4736 adds to our broad program of immuno-oncology combination trials, addressing multiple immune pathways and working with industry-leading partners to explore the significant potential of immunotherapies in transforming treatments for cancer.”
Per the agreement's initial development plan, MedImmune and Juno will investigate the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of the combination therapy as a potential treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Though no financial details for the collaboration were disclosed, the companies will jointly co-fund the initial Phase 1b study, which is expected to begin later this year. Juno and MedImmune will also investigate the potential of combining MEDI4736 with a next-generation, fully human CD19-directed CAR T cell candidate developed by Juno.
“We believe combination strategies such as this will help us better understand the full potential of our engineered T cell platform in both hematological and solid tumor settings,” Dr. Mark W. Frohlich, executive vice president of Research & Development at Juno, commented in a statement. “We look forward to working with MedImmune, a leader in immuno-oncology and checkpoint inhibition, in understanding the potential clinical benefit of combining these two potent therapeutic classes.”
This deal follows a week after MedImmune announced a similar collaboration, under which it would conduct clinical trials in immuno-oncology with Immunocore Ltd. The agreement states that Immunocore will conduct a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial that combines MEDI4736 and/or tremelimumab (anti-CTLA-4) with IMCgp100, Immunocore's lead T cell receptor-based investigational therapeutic, as a potential treatment for metastatic melanoma. MedImmune has an exclusive relationship with Immunocore for the development of IMCgp100 together with MEDI4736 and/or tremelimumab, and will have the first right of negotiation for the future commercial development of those combinations for tumors that express the tumor-associated antigen glycoprotein 100 (gp100).
The two companies will collaborate on determining a dosing regimen for IMCgp100 combined with MEDI4736 and/or tremelimumab in the Phase 1b study, while the Phase 2 study will determine the safety and efficacy of the combination treatment regimens.