Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in
Email:
Password:

AZ signs two more deals in cancer immunotherapy

Anglo-Swedish firm pens partnerships with Heptares and Mirati Therapeutics

 AZ HQ

AstraZeneca continues to push its immuno-oncology programme hard, signing two new deals this week with Heptares and Mirati Therapeutics.

AZ's MedImmune subsidiary has just licensed exclusive rights to Heptares' adenosine A2A receptor antagonist HTL-1071 - a small-molecule immuno-oncology compound - for $10m upfront and around $500m in milestone payments.

Meanwhile, the company has also agreed to tests its lead cancer immunotherapy durvalumab (MEDI4736) in combination with Mirati's histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor mocetinostat in a phase I/II trial.

AZ has made immuno-oncology one of the key pillars of its R&D strategy as it tries to catch up with the leaders in the field, which include Bristol-Myer Squibb with Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Merck & Co with Keytruda (pembrolizumab).

The new therapeutic category - which uses drugs to encourage the immune system to react to tumours - is predicted to be worth upwards of $30bn within the next 10 years.

The adenosine A2A receptor is thought to be responsible for inactivating and inhibiting T lymphocytes from invading tumours, so blocking it could improve cancer immunotherapy by allowing T cells and natural killer cells to fight tumour cells.

In addition to gaining rights to HTL-1071, which is currently in early-stage development, AZ and Heptares - which was acquired by Japan's Sosei in February in a deal valued at around $400m - have agreed to work together on identify additional adenosine ARA antagonists.

AZ has been working with UK-based Heptares since 2011 in a $190m programme looking at the development of drugs for central nervous system disorders/pain, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and inflammation.

The agreement with Mitari is the latest of a series signed by AZ and MedImmune to explore the use of durvalumab in combination with other drugs, which is a feature of the immuno-oncology sector.

Durvalumab is a checkpoint inhibitor designed to counter tumours' immune-evading tactics, while mocetinostat has the potential to enhance the positive effect of the drug on tumour immunity.

The latter is in the same class as Merck & Co's Zolinza (vorinostat), Novartis' Farydak (panobinostat) and Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' Beleodaq (belinostat), which are approved for various haematological cancers.

AZ and Mitari will initially test their combination in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a trial due to start next year, with other indications following if initial studies are successful.

Article by
Phil Taylor

6th August 2015

From: Research

Share

Tags

Featured jobs

Subscribe to our email news alerts

PMHub

Add my company
Weber Shandwick

At Weber Shandwick, engagement has always been the cornerstone of health communications.We make health matter. Health is a basic human...

Latest intelligence

PM Society Digital Awards – the power of together
Our chief executive, Emma Statham, writes about the value of awards and the power of together....
Seduction_feature_image_thumb.jpg
Seduce anyone in four simple steps
You know the health of the global economy is dependent on our ability to seduce one another – don’t you? And you know that we need to be able to...
What Would Jeremy Do? : Assessing the impact of a Corbyn-led Labour government
GK Strategy are delighted to announce the launch our latest briefing paper entitled ‘What Would Jeremy Do? Assessing the impact of a Corbyn-led Labour government’....

Infographics