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May 29, 2015

AstraZeneca, Lilly to Study Immuno-Oncology Combination

  • A combination cancer treatment of AstraZeneca’s Phase III immuno-oncology treatment candidate MEDI4736 and Eli Lilly’s marketed product Cyramza® (ramucirumab) will be assessed in patients with advanced solid tumors under a Phase I clinical trial collaboration disclosed by the companies today.

    The value of the collaboration, other financial terms, and details of the tumors to be studied, were not disclosed.

    Lilly will sponsor the study, which according to the companies is expected to establish the safety and recommended dosing regimen for the combination, as well as evaluate its preliminary efficacy. The study has potential of being expanded with cohorts focused on various tumors of interest, Lilly and AstraZeneca said.

    “This collaboration represents the next wave of immuno-oncology research by bringing together two innovative medicines—Lilly's Cyramza and AstraZeneca's MEDI4736—as a novel combination that we hope will one day provide new cancer treatment solutions,” Richard Gaynor, M.D., svp, product development and medical affairs with Lilly Oncology, said in a statement.

    Cyramza is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) Receptor 2 antagonist designed to work by binding and inhibiting activation of VEGF Receptor 2 while blocking the binding of VEGF receptor ligands VEGF-A, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D. In an animal model, Cyramza was shown to inhibit angiogenesis.

    In the U.S., Cyramza is approved alone or in combination with paclitaxel for advanced or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma, whose cancer has progressed on or after prior fluoropyrimidine- or platinum-containing chemotherapy. The drug is also approved in the U.S. in combination with docetaxel for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose cancer has progressed on or after platinum-based chemotherapy; as well as with Folfiri for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) whose cancer has progressed on or after therapy with bevacizumab, oxaliplatin, and a fluoropyrimidine.

    MEDI4736 is a programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that is designed to fight cancer by blocking signals from PD-L1 that help tumors avoid detection by the immune system. Developed by AstraZeneca’s global biologics R&D arm MedImmune,  MEDI4736 has been advanced into Phase III clinical development in non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck cancer.

    In recent weeks, AstraZeneca and MedImmune have been busy forging partnerships to study combinations of MEDI4736 with cancer-fighting candidates of other drug developers. Last month the companies launched a $1.8 billion pair of immune-oncology combo collaborations with Celgene and Innate Pharma. A day earlier, MedImmune agreed to initiate a clinical trial collaboration with Juno Therapeutics for a combination of MEDI4736 and a Juno chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell candidate directed at CD19.

    “Our collaboration with Lilly is a great addition to our program and provides the opportunity to explore another exciting, novel combination that could deliver important clinical benefit to cancer patients,” stated Robert Iannone, head of immuno-oncology, global medicines development at AstraZeneca.

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