AstraZeneca and Abpro join up on cancer research

Billy Bambrough
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AstraZeneca is searching for its next blockbuster drug as others go off-patent
AstraZeneca is searching for its next blockbuster drug as others go off-patent (Source: Getty)

AstraZeneca's biological arm MedImmune and US life sciences group Abpro have joined forces on a new research collaboration that will be spunout as a new company.

Called AbMed, it will hold the development and commercialization rights while MedImmune gets a minority stake and a slate of unspecified milestones.

Pharma firms are rushing to team up on development and acquire up and coming drugs as they battle against rising cost pressures and a raft of moneyspinning drugs going off-patent.

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The partnership is aiming to undertake the development of a preclinical antibody that targets two key pathways involved in cancer, building on earlier work done by MedImmune. The antibody has demonstrated potent activity in animal models.

“This agreement arises out of MedImmune’s culture of entrepreneurship and innovation - both in science and in business,” said Jane Osbourn, vice president of research and development at MedImmune. “We believe partners like Abpro can help us maximize our extensive pre-clinical portfolio to advance therapies for patients.”

The announcement follows the beginning of some staff cuts from MedImmune over the summer as it looks toward a deeper focus – and a larger cash pile – for its oncology research.

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Ian Chan, chief executive and co-founder of Abpro said: “[This] creates an opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies. This collaboration further validates our platform’s ability to develop therapeutic antibodies against traditionally difficult targets, with compelling prospects for potential clinical utility.”

The work has proven challenging for others in the space. Big pharma rival Roche recently suspended its monotherapy work on an antibody with the same targets — after it failed during tests.

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