Areas of Focus


With several promising new biologics, we are continuing our leadership in the area of infectious diseases; playing a key role in inflammation, cancer, autoimmune, and respiratory diseases; and building on our expertise in other areas to create a world-class focus in neuroscience, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases.

To support our efforts in these key areas, our organization is arranged into five disease-focused units for the discovery and development of new biologics:

Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity (RIA)With a focus on biologics, MedImmune’s RIA group is pioneering innovative, high-quality research – building one of the most rich and diverse portfolios in the industry through pipeline progression and strategic partnerships. Our RIA Innovative Medicine Unit leverages industry-leading technology to deliver important and groundbreaking therapeutics to patients with moderate-to-severe inflammatory diseases that are immune-mediated (involve abnormal activity of the body’s immune system).

Our current focus is on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), psoriasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as part of a spectrum of related diseases in which we are conducting exploratory work. We are constantly investigating novel pathways in respiratory diseases, with the goal of improving the lives of patients who are inadequately controlled on conventional therapies.

We also have created some unique partnerships to help advance our RIA pipeline:
  • A joint development agreement through AstraZeneca with Amgen on five monoclonocal antibodies from Amgen's clinical inflammation portfolio, giving MedImmune the most robust inflammation pipeline in the industry. Read the press release
  • A joint venture with Chinese company WuXiAppTec to develop and commercialize MEDI5117, a novel biologic for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, in China. Through this partnership, MedImmune will be one of the first multinational companies to bring a novel biologic to China. Read the press release
Learn more about our science:

Cardiovascular/Metabolic DiseaseOur cardiovascular/metabolic (CVMD) Innovative Medicine Unit is discovering and developing novel and differentiated drugs to treat diabetes, diabetic nephropathy, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. As a result of recent scientific developments implicating biologics in the pathophysiology of these diseases, coupled with our unique capabilities and technology platforms, we are currently expanding our research efforts both internally and with external collaborators.

We are committed to introducing innovative treatments and building consensus for the use of biologics in these important therapeutic areas, with the goal of alleviating the burden of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases for patients around the world. For example, we believe that small molecules, peptides, and monoclonal antibodies can all play a role in the treatment paradigm for type 2 diabetes to address biology and mitigate risks.

We have a vision of becoming a global leader in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases by developing innovative biologics that make a real difference to patients and society. Our strategy for achieving this vision includes:
  • Targeting key pathophysiologies of unmet medical needs
  • Focusing on pathways and targets that are relevant to human diseases
  • Exploiting our expertise to develop novel multi-selective approaches using peptides/proteins and antibodies
  • Leveraging expertise across the organization to develop first- and best-in-class therapies
  • Building a network of external partners and collaborations to stay ahead of breaking science

OncologyThe MedImmune oncology research pipeline targets solid tumors (such as breast or lung cancers) and hematologic cancers (such as lymphoma and leukemia). We have a competitive portfolio with four clinical stage programs in IMT-c, two Phase 2 programs in hematology, and two clinical stage programs in angiogenesis inhibition. We also have competitive pre-clinical programs in IMT-c, ADC, and tumor stem cells.

We are focused on incorporating innovative technologies designed to eliminate cancer cells in more effective and targeted ways, such as effector-enhanced, polyspecific, and toxin-carrying antibodies. This includes a focus on several strategic biologic areas critical to the development and progression of cancer:
  • immune-mediated cancer therapy
  • tumor-associated antigens
  • cancer stem cells
  • growth factor signaling and survival
  • oncolytic viruses

Immune-mediated therapies are an exciting area of cancer research, and MedImmune is a key player in this space. These therapies seek to recalibrate and amplify a patient’s immune system to better recognize and attack cancer; they have the potential to provide durable responses and prolonged survival. Tremelimumab, a CTLA-4 blocking immunotherapy, is just one of several immune-mediated therapies in our pipeline. It’s being studied in melanoma and other solid tumors, and is a prime example of our company pursuing the best science.

Immunotoxins are another promising area of our oncology research. Described as the “trojan horse” of cancer therapies, these cleverly engineered therapies link a toxin to an antibody with the goal of delivering the toxin directly into the tumor cells without affecting the normal cells around it.

Our collaboration with the Cancer Research Institute and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research underscores our commitment to advancing the science in this area. This collaboration centers on exploring combinations of immunotherapies, including tremelimumab and two other investigational monoclonal antibodies from our oncology pipeline.

The future direction of MedImmune’s oncology research includes a concentrated focus on:
  • Exploring combinations based on science, data, and clinical need, including the support of collaborative novel-novel Phase 1b’s, which can show strong signals and identify registration opportunities
  • Incorporating biomarker-directed patient selection in all programs
  • Exploiting our antibody engineering and biologics manufacturing expertise to attract partners
  • Pursuing opportunities and leveraging collaborations to share cost and risk
Learn more about our science:

Infectious DiseaseMedImmune is constantly seeking new biologics to prevent and treat diseases caused by bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Compared to other companies in this area of research, we are in a unique position as we are exploring the role of biologics, small molecules, and vaccines. This is an incredibly important area of research, as the steady rise of drug-resistant bacteria is an imminent and urgent threat to public health and increased healthcare costs.

MedImmune has historical roots in infectious disease and influenza protection, including:
  • Synagis® (palivizumab) — launched in 1998 to prevent serious lower respiratory tract disease caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children at high risk of RSV disease. Synagis is the first monoclonal antibody to target an infectious disease. Common side effects of Synagis include fever and rash. Other possible side effects include skin reactions around the area where the shot was given (like redness, swelling, warmth, or discomfort). See more Important Safety Information and Prescribing Information for Synagis.
  • FluMist® (Influenza Vaccine Live, Intranasal) — launched in 2003, FluMist is a nasally-administered live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) and was the first advancement in flu technology in over 60 years. The most common side effects of FluMist are runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and fever over 100 degrees F. See more Important Safety Information and Prescribing Information for FluMist.
  • FluMist Quadrivalent® (Influenza Vaccine Live, Intranasal) — approved by the FDA in 2012, FluMist Quadrivalent is the first quadrivalent influenza vaccine, containing four strains (two type A strains and two type B lineages) to help provide broad protection against circulating influenza A and B. The most common side effects of FluMist Quadrivalent are runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and fever over 100°F. See more Important Safety Information and Prescribing Information for FluMist Quadrivalent.

We are continually striving to improve our influenza vaccines, exploring their role in helping prevent a global flu pandemic and developing novel therapeutics for severe influenza. Our broader goal is to develop innovative vaccines and treatments across three core areas, leveraging internal expertise coupled with scientific and development partnerships:

  • Respiratory viruses
  • Serious bacterial infections
  • Novel vaccines

We also are exploring ways of bringing biologic technology to the most challenging infectious disease needs of our society. Research is ongoing in antibacterials – specifically the prevention and treatment of infections caused by Staphylococcus Aureus and Psenudomonas aeruginosa, and herpes viruses, to name a few.

Our strategy for maintaining leadership in infectious disease research is to:
  • Leverage our experience and leading position in respiratory viruses and expand it to large, at-risk patient populations
  • Use our expertise to develop novel antibody and antibody-like molecules to prevent and treat bacterial infections
  • Build on our strengths and history in novel vaccines by exploring vaccines against infectious diseases and other disease areas

GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION: In May 2006, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) awarded MedImmune with a five-year contract to develop cell-based seasonal and pandemic vaccines using our proprietary, live, attenuated, intranasal influenza technology. In 2009, we received FDA approval for our live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. HHS ordered more than 40 million doses of this LAIV.

NeuroscienceOur biologics neuroscience Center of Excellence (CoE) is part of AstraZeneca’s neuroscience Innovative Medicine Unit, working to discover new treatment pathways and develop novel biologic therapies for chronic inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain, and Alzheimer's disease.

Our neuroscience research is a particularly strong example of our collaborative spirit. AstraZeneca’s Innovative Medicine Unit changes the way we conduct neuroscience research: Instead of maintaining our own labs, we’re building a team of highly experienced neuroscientists and other drug development experts who will focus on growing and managing a portfolio of high-quality projects – tapping into the best available science and expertise, wherever it exists around the world.

We aim to transform the treatment of central nervous system disorders and chronic pain by delivering unique, effective, targeted treatments that make a meaningful difference in patients’ lives – constantly looking to match the right target to the right molecule, and the right biologic with the right patient.