January 8, 2014 – AstraZeneca today announced that MedImmune, its global biologics research and development arm, has entered into an oncology research collaboration and licensing agreement with Immunocore Limited, a privately-held, UK-based biotechnology company.
Both companies will research and develop novel cancer therapies using Immunocore’s Immune Mobilising Monoclonal T-Cell Receptor Against Cancer (ImmTAC) technology.
This platform of biological medicines, or ImmTACs, exploits the power of the body’s own immune system to find and kill diseased cells. ImmTACs direct a patient’s T cells to specifically destroy only the cancerous cells, avoiding damage to healthy cells.
Under the terms of the agreement, Immunocore and MedImmune will work together to generate ImmTACs against selected cancer targets. AstraZeneca and MedImmune will have the right to further develop and commercialise ImmTAC products to add to their immune-mediated cancer therapy portfolio. Immunocore will receive an upfront payment of $20 million per programme and the company is then eligible to receive up to $300 million in development and commercial milestone payments for each target programme and significant tiered royalties if the programmes are successful.
“We look forward to collaborating with Immunocore on this promising area of cancer research that has the potential to further enhance our immune-mediated cancer therapy portfolio for patients with a range of cancer types,” said Dr. Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, MedImmune. “Immunocore has a strong track record with its innovative ImmTAC technology, and presents a significant opportunity for us to achieve treatment breakthroughs in the area of immune-mediated cancer therapies.”
Oncology is a core therapy area for AstraZeneca spanning both small molecule and biologics research and development. The company is developing a comprehensive portfolio in immune-mediated cancer therapies, and the collaboration with Immunocore will help expand MedImmune’s portfolio of agents that harness the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer in a very tumour-targeted way.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with MedImmune, a leader in the development of biotherapeutics with particular strengths in oncology,” said James Noble, Chief Executive Officer, Immunocore. “We look forward to working together to develop ImmTAC therapies against cancer targets and address the unmet medical needs of many thousands of cancer patients.”
About ImmTACsImmunocore’s ImmTAC (Immune mobilising mTCR Against Cancer) technology enables the immune system to recognise and kill cancer or viral cells.
T Cell Receptors naturally recognise diseased cells and Immunocore’s competitive advantage is its ability to engineer high affinity T Cell Receptors and link them to an anti-CD3 antibody fragment, which can activate the immune system to kill the targeted cancer or viral cells. These biological medicines, called ImmTACS, have the potential to be extremely potent anti-cancer or anti-viral agents. For more information: www.immunocore.com.
Founded in 2008, Immunocore Ltd is a privately owned, clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a highly innovative platform technology that generates novel drugs called ImmTACs for the treatment of cancer and viral infection. Immunocore traces its roots to Avidex Ltd, founded in 1999 as a spin-out from the University of Oxford to develop novel T Cell Receptor technology invented by the founder and chief scientist, Dr Bent Jakobsen.
Immunocore has major discovery collaborations ongoing with leading pharmaceutical companies Genentech and GlaxoSmithKline. The company was listed in the top 15 private biotech firms globally for 2013 by Fierce Biotech and named Best Biotech Dealmaker of 2013 at the OBN Awards. Immunocore has approximately 90 staff and is located in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
MedImmune is the worldwide biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across key therapeutic areas, including respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; neuroscience; and infection and vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centers. For more information, please visit: www.medimmune.com.
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.