AstraZeneca collaborates with Cambridge medical research institutions to advance cancer research

Posted: 9 July 2013 | | No comments yet

AstraZeneca enters agreement with University of Cambridge & Cancer Research UK…


AstraZeneca today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK for a two-year collaboration on three pre-clinical and clinical oncology projects. This agreement with world-leading medical research institutions based in Cambridge, UK, aims to advance cancer research through the study of tumour mutations and new investigational therapies in prostate, pancreatic and potentially other cancers.

The collaboration follows AstraZeneca’s recent announcement that by 2016 its new UK-based global research and development centre and corporate headquarters will be located at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. This alliance will bring together scientists from AstraZeneca’s small molecule and MedImmune’s biologics units and researchers across the region from the University, affiliated Institutes and the NHS, all of which are members of the Cambridge Cancer Centre. The three projects involve:

  • Working with the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology to evaluate a new technology that will allow clinicians to monitor the activity of a tumour – including its progression, response to therapy and the onset of drug resistance – through blood tests and without the need for biopsies. Based on the Cambridge Institute’s pioneering techniques and AstraZeneca’s treatment expertise, the aim of the collaboration is to use the tumour DNA present in a patient’s blood to better understand the genetic makeup of their cancer and therefore the right therapy to tackle it.
  • Working with the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge University Hospitals to test the potential effectiveness of AstraZeneca’s investigational therapies olaparib and AZD2014 in high-risk prostate cancer patients who currently have a poor disease prognosis. The compounds will be tested in both pre-clinical models and early-phase clinical trials.
  • Working with the Babraham Institute, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to evaluate new therapeutic approaches for patients with pancreatic cancer, a disease with an extremely poor prognosis and few treatments available. The collaboration will focus on identifying the best drug combinations for AstraZeneca’s investigational compound selumetinib in pre-clinical models.

David Neal, Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Honorary consultant Urological Surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, said: “I am delighted about this partnership on the Biomedical Campus between AstraZeneca, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. It is a wonderful example of how collaboration between a world-class pharmaceutical company and cutting edge academic research will lead to benefits for patients through better understanding individual variation in cancer behaviour.”

“These are the first research collaborations AstraZeneca has established with Cambridge-based partners since announcing our intention to build a strategic research and development centre on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus,” said Susan Galbraith, Head of AstraZeneca’s Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit. “It is fitting that the focus of these collaborations is on delivering new medicines for cancer because our Cambridge facility will become AstraZeneca’s largest centre for oncology research. We look forward to having our scientists work side-by-side with some of the world’s most distinguished medical institutions.

“All three of the collaborations we are announcing today advance our work in the area of personalised healthcare, helping us to understand and address the underlying mechanisms of disease so that we can find the right medicines for the right patients.”

AstraZeneca’s new, purpose-built site on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus will bring together the company’s small molecule and biologics research and development activity focused on oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune diseases and conditions of the central nervous system.

AstraZeneca has identified oncology as a core therapy area for building a continued pipeline of innovative medicines and announced earlier this year its plans to begin Phase III trials for olaparib for platinum-sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer patients with BRCA mutations and selumetinib for non small cell lung cancer patients with KRAS mutations. Because of AstraZeneca’s understanding of how cancers grow and how these compounds work, the company is committed to investigating both compounds in a range of solid tumours.