News Feature | September 29, 2014

MedImmune Links With CRUK To Build New Biologics Lab

By Estel Grace Masangkay

AstraZeneca’s global biologics R&D arm MedImmune announced that it has partnered with Cancer Research UK through its commercial arm Cancer Research Technology (CRT) to build a joint laboratory in Cambridge, UK.

The new facility will be named CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory and will be used to develop new biologic cancer drugs during the course of an initial five-year period. Under the terms of the agreement, CRUK will provide funding for the setup and operations at the lab. The institute will also contribute a portfolio of new drug targets. MedImmune, on the other hand, will lead laboratory activities and allow access to its human antibody phage display libraries and antibody-engineering technologies. Scientists from both MedImmune and CRUK will develop antibodies against cancer and will collaborate on multiple oncology projects.

Bahija Jallal, EVP at MedImmune, said, “We are pleased to enter this strategic antibody discovery and development collaboration with Cancer Research UK, one of the leading charitable cancer research institutions in the world. Our collaboration represents an innovative public-private business model for biologic drug development as we will share knowledge and expertise in a dedicated laboratory to discover potentially ground-breaking medicines for cancer patients.” This same week the company announced its receipt of Fast Track designation from the FDA for its antibody against pneumonia.

Keith Blundy, CEO of Cancer Research Technology, said that MedImmune is one of its most crucial strategic partners especially in the area of biologic cancer drug development. “This unique partnership will bring together cutting-edge research with the most advanced antibody technologies industry can offer under one roof, to deliver significant output over a number of years. Cancer Research UK-funded scientists from across the UK will have the opportunity to access this unique lab and expertise. It’s the first of what we hope will be many such pioneering collaborations that will help to accelerate the translation of our research into potential new drugs.”

In August, CRUK and CRT announced its collaboration with Astellas to discover new drug targets, initially in pancreatic cancer. CRUK is also currently at work on a stem cell-based cancer vaccine with partner Asterias Biotherapeutics.