AstraZeneca and Cambridge Collaborate for Cancer Research

AstraZeneca collaborates with Cambridge medical research institutions to advance cancer research

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

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.

NOTES TO EDITORS
About olaparib

Olaparib is an innovative, potential first-in-class oral poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor that exploits DNA repair pathway deficiencies to preferentially kill cancer cells. This mode of action gives olaparib the potential for activity in a range of tumour types with DNA repair deficiencies. PARP is associated with a range of tumour types, in particular with breast and ovarian cancers.

About selumetinib

Selumetinib is an MEK inhibitor that has been shown in Phase I/II studies to be clinically active and tolerated as monotherapy and in combination with standard of care chemotherapy regimens in clinical studies across a range of solid tumours.

About the Cambridge Cancer Centre

The Cambridge Cancer Centre is made up of partner institutions including the University of Cambridge, the Hutchison MRC Research Centre, Cancer Research UK and the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Within the Centre, there are approximately 140 senior research investigators in addition to the NHS consultants and health care professionals who treat patients. The mission of the Cambridge Cancer Centre is to provide ground breaking basic science in cancer, high quality translational research to benefit patients, and to integrate this with the highest quality cancer service for prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.

About Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. The charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated. Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years. The organisation supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses. Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org.

About the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute is a major research centre which aims to take the scientific strengths of Cambridge to practical application for the benefit of cancer patients. The Institute is a unique partnership between the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK. It is housed in the Li Ka Shing Centre, a state-of-the-art research facility located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus which was generously funded by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, Cambridge University, Cancer Research UK, The Atlantic Philanthropies and a range of other donors. For more information visit www.cambridgecancer.org.uk.

About the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital

The University Department of Oncology is part of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge and is based within 6 locations on or close to the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site. It is a large department, with both University and NHS components, where clinical and basic science converges to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer related research. Its main focus of research is the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of cancer. It aims to deliver the best possible care to patients, build a world renowned environment for laboratory and clinical research and provide an education programme that generates world class oncology clinicians and research scientists.

About Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH)

CUH is one of the largest and best-known hospitals in the country. As well as delivering care through Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie, it is also:

  • a leading national centre for specialist treatment for rare or complex conditions
  • a government-designated biomedical research centre
  • one of only five academic health science centres in the UK
  • a university teaching hospital with a worldwide reputation
  • a partner in the development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus
  • CUH’s vision is to be the best academic healthcare organisation in the world.

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), undertakes international quality life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Research focuses on signalling and genome regulation, particularly the interplay between the two and how epigenetic signals can influence important physiological adaptations during the lifespan of an organism. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and healthier ageing. www.babraham.ac.uk

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. 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

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Posted: July 2013

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