MedImmune partners on trials for a new slate of cancer immunotherapy combos

Cancer immunotherapy research has once again topped the R&D charts as one of the hottest fields in biotech. And now MedImmune, the biologics arm of AstraZeneca ($AZN), has teamed up with some prestigious research teams to come up with some revved up combo therapies using a few of their most promising antibodies.

The Cancer Research Institute and the Ludwig Institute will collaborate with MedImmune on new clinical trials of next-gen combo hopefuls, concentrating on pairing the MedImmune antibodies with agents in their own portfolios or outside programs that can be partnered on. MedImmune is contributing its CTLA-4 blocking antibody tremelimumab, an OX40 receptor agonist antibody, and a B7-H1 (or PD-L1) blocking antibody dubbed MEDI4736.

"We are just beginning to scratch the surface of the immune system's potential as a new tool in cancer treatment," said Jonathan Skipper, Ph.D., executive director of technology development at the Ludwig Institute, in a statement. "By identifying and evaluating new combinations of treatments, we aim to facilitate the development of a more powerful generation of smarter immunotherapy drugs to manage cancer patients' disease over the long term."

MedImmune failed to help AstraZeneca much in the five years since the $15.6 billion buyout deal was struck. Since then, though, MedImmune has assembled a pipeline of new therapies that may eventually make the deal a winner for its Big Pharma parent. Now MedImmune has some top research talent to help. 

- here's the press release

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