AstraZeneca strengthens partnership with the University of Cambridge

AstraZeneca, together with its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, today announced that it has entered into four new collaborations with the University of Cambridge, building further on their existing partnership.


The latest collaborations reinforce AstraZeneca’s commitment to creating a permeable research infrastructure in Cambridge following the company’s decision to locate one of its three global research and development centres and its global headquarters in the city that has been home to MedImmune’s biologics research laboratories for 25 years.

The agreements build on the existing strategic partnership between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge, which includes a substantial oncology research programme and co-location of AstraZeneca scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, the largest single facility conducting cancer research in the University of Cambridge. The four agreements involve:

Neuroscience research

A three-year collaboration between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge will focus on advancing research and development in neurodegenerative diseases, an area with a large unmet medical need. Scientists from all three parties will collectively address gaps in drug discovery, translational biomarkers and personalised healthcare approaches for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. The University of Cambridge will contribute world-leading expertise in disease biology, experimental models and tissue samples, while AstraZeneca 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. “We look forward to working with scientists from MedImmune and AstraZeneca to increase knowledge on brain function and apply this to common neurological conditions.”

Access to AstraZeneca pipeline compounds

A pivotal Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) will give researchers from the University of Cambridge access to key compounds from AstraZeneca’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.

PhD programme to support future leaders in science

The collaboration between MedImmune and the University of Cambridge includes a doctoral training programme whereby PhD candidates will spend significant time at the University of Cambridge and in MedImmune’s laboratories, jointly supervised by the organisations during their four-year studentship.

Entrepreneur-in-residence programme

This programme 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 programmes. 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.

“We are excited to establish this prestigious strategic alliance between AstraZeneca, MedImmune and the University of Cambridge to progress high quality scientific research,” said Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, MedImmune. “We will work together to discover and develop new medicines that could have a significant impact on the health of patients with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.”

“In a world where partnerships and collaborations drive medical innovation, deepening our roots in the vibrant Cambridge life science ecosystem offers compelling advantages for AstraZeneca. These new agreements will not only bring our teams closer to the world-class academic investigators at the University of Cambridge, but will also enable us to actively support the development of the next generation of leading scientists right here in the UK,” said Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President of Innovative Medicines & Early Development, AstraZeneca.

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