AstraZeneca, together with its global biologics R&D arm MedImmune, has entered into four new collaborations with the University of Cambridge, building further on their existing partnership. The latest collaborations reinforce AZ’s commitment to creating a permeable research infrastructure in Cambridge following its decision to locate one of its three global R&D centers and its global headquarters in the city, which has been home to MedImmune’s biologics research laboratories for 25 years.
The agreements build on the existing strategic partnership between AZ, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge, which includes a substantial oncology research program and co-location of AZ scientists at the Cancer Research U.K. Cambridge Institute, the largest single facility conducting cancer research in the University of Cambridge. The four agreements involve neuroscience research, access to AZ pipeline compounds, a Ph.D. program to support future leaders in science and an entrepreneur-in-residence program.
A three-year collaboration between AZ, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge will focus on advancing R&D in neurodegenerative diseases, an area with a large unmet medical need. Scientists from all three parties collectively will address gaps in drug discovery, translational biomarkers and personalized healthcare approaches for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
The University of Cambridge will contribute experience in disease biology, experimental models and tissue samples, while AZ and MedImmune will provide access to molecular tools, screening capabilities and leading drug development expertise to enable novel target and biomarker discovery and validation. The research will be carried out at MedImmune and the University of Cambridge laboratories, with opportunities for investigators to work alongside each other and share knowledge.
“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,” said professor Alastair Compston, professor of neurology, speaking on behalf of Cambridge Neuroscience, University of Cambridge.
A pivotal Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) will give researchers from the University of Cambridge access to key compounds from AZ’s pipeline for investigation, such as the EGFR inhibitor AZD9291 for non-small cell lung cancer; olaparib, a PARP inhibitor; AZD2014, an mTOR inhibitor; and AZD5363, an AKT inhibitor.
The collaboration between MedImmune and the University of Cambridge includes a doctoral training program in which Ph.D. candidates will spend significant time at the University of Cambridge and in MedImmune’s laboratories, jointly supervised by the organizations during their four-year studentship.
This program will offer guidance and mentorship to academic researchers at the University of Cambridge who are considering the broader application and commercial potential of their scientific programs. MedImmune will provide support and advice on a range of key issues tailored to the individual academic’s needs such as drug and technology development, business planning, intellectual property, market opportunity, partnering approaches and securing investment.