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AZ and MRCT serious diseases collaboration

AstraZeneca and MRC Technology have announced a new strategic collaboration to advance promising compounds for serious diseases

AstraZeneca (AZ) and MRC Technology (MRCT), the commercialisation company for the UK's Medical Research Council, have announced a new strategic collaboration to advance promising compounds. They will be sharing access to their collections of compounds to aid the search for potential new treatments for serious diseases.

In the initial phase of the collaboration, the companies will concentrate on five biological targets selected by AZ in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular, neuroscience, and infection. MRCT will choose five additional targets to explore.

Overall the companies will combine up to 100,000 compounds from AZ's collection with the MRCT library of approximately 50,000 compounds. MRCT will screen this larger combined library, searching for compounds that show activity against novel biological targets. A joint steering committee will review these hits, and decide how to advance promising compounds that could become innovative medicines.

AZ and MRCT will retain ownership of their respective compounds. Individual projects chosen to go forward would trigger option fees and the parties would negotiate further research and license agreements.

"As part of our increasing drive to access innovation from external sources, there's real value in collaborating with organisations such as MRC Technology with a track record of success in biomedical research, including new areas of disease biology. This collaboration gives us early access to new disease understanding and related novel drug targets, allowing us to broaden the scope and choice of programmes we take forward," says Jin Li, director global compound sciences at AZ.

Alan Lamont, director science and technology alliances at AZ, said: "This deal represents a novel and creative way in which we can generate more value from one of our most significant assets – our compound collection, which may ultimately lead to the development of better medicines for patients. We continue to look for ways to maximise the value of our chemical assets externally through a range of collaborations."

Dave Tapolczay, CEO of MRCT added: "This agreement signals a new era in pharma/academic cooperation. We're marrying up a high-quality compound collection from AstraZeneca with MRC Technology's drug discovery capabilities in assay development, screening and medicinal chemistry, and applying it to exciting novel targets from some of the world's foremost academic laboratories. We are confident this synergistic approach will accelerate the discovery of new therapies for serious human diseases."

5th July 2010

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