New collaboration to focus on personalized therapies across multiple tumor types
July 10, 2017, Gaithersburg, Md. and St. Louis, Mo. – MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have entered an oncology research and clinical alliance aimed at developing neoantigen vaccines for use in combination with checkpoint inhibitors and other cancer immunotherapy agents.
Neoantigen vaccines are intended to activate the immune system to recognize antigens specific to cancer cells and which may be unique to individual patients. This research aligns to MedImmune’s combination-focused immuno-oncology strategy and commitment to addressing the multiple ways cancer can escape immune response.
Each partner brings unique strengths to the alliance. MedImmune has a robust pipeline and industry-leading expertise in immunotherapy, as well as a legacy in vaccine development. Washington University School of Medicine is globally recognized for its leadership in neoantigen research, sequencing and informatics. Working collaboratively, the teams will advance both preclinical and clinical research to develop personalized neoantigen vaccines that may be delivered in combination with immunotherapies in MedImmune and AstraZeneca’s oncology portfolio, including durvalumab, a human monoclonal antibody directed against PD-L1, which blocks the interaction of PD-L1 with PD-1 and CD80.
“Despite the encouraging advances in checkpoint immunotherapy, not every patient responds, and some tumors have remained resistant,” said David Berman, Senior Vice President, R&D and Oncology iMED Head, MedImmune. “We look forward to collaborating with our Washington University colleagues who are leaders in cancer immunotherapy, neoantigen vaccine research and bioinformatics. This expertise—combined with MedImmune’s broad oncology portfolio and vaccine heritage—can advance one of our goals of developing personalized immunotherapy with the intent of activating T cells that are specific for the tumor cell.”
Added Robert Schreiber, Alumni Professor of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine, “We are at a turning point in medicine, when technology, data and patient-specific biology are converging to help guide the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. This collaboration with MedImmune enhances how we discover and develop new cancer vaccines and represents an opportunity to advance the science for patients in critical need.”
Through a joint steering committee, the two organizations will agree on clinical strategy, and proposed clinical trials will be reviewed and approved by MedImmune. MedImmune will progress development of neoantigen vaccines discovered through the collaboration as appropriate.
MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across Oncology, Respiratory, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases, and Infection and Vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centres, with additional sites in Cambridge, UK and Mountain View, CA. For more information, please visit www.medimmune.com.
AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three main therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases and Respiratory. The Company also is selectively active in the areas of autoimmunity, neuroscience and infection. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information, please visit www.astrazeneca.com and follow us on Twitter @AstraZeneca.
About Washington University School of Medicine
Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked seventh in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare. For more information, please visit https://medicine.wustl.edu/.
Durvalumab, previously known as MEDI4736, a human monoclonal antibody directed against PD-L1, blocks PD-L1 interaction with PD-1 and CD80 on T cells, countering the tumour's immune-evading tactics and inducing an immune response.
Durvalumab continues to advance in multiple monotherapy trials and combination trials with tremelimumab and other potential new medicines in IO. Durvalumab is being assessed in Phase III trials as a monotherapy in various stages of NSCLC, in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), in urothelial bladder cancer and in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The combination of durvalumab and tremelimumab is being assessed in Phase III trials in urothelial bladder cancer, NSCLC, SCLC and HNSCC and in Phase I/II trials in gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and haematological malignancies.