Incyte is partnering with AstraZeneca's global biologics R&D arm MedImmune in a Phase I/II oncology study to evaluate how two immunotherapies—MedImmune’s anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor MEDI4736 and Incyte’s oral indoleamine dioxygenase-1 (IDO1) inhibitor INCB24360—work in combination.

On a nonexclusive basis, MedImmune and Incyte will evaluate the combination in multiple solid tumors including metastatic melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck and pancreatic cancer. Incyte will be conducting the study, and both firms will cofund it equally. The companies will use the Phase I and Phase II results to determine whether or not to go forward with further development. 

MedImmune says MEDI4736 works by blocking the signals that help tumors avoid detection by the immune system; Incyte says INCB24360 can enhance immune cells' ability to fight tumors. Both firms add that a combination of these two treatments, which showed promise in preclinical trials, could provoke an enhanced antitumor immune response in patents.

“Research collaborations that evaluate combinations of novel immunotherapies across a broad range of indications have the potential to accelerate our understanding of this rapidly evolving field, to identify new areas of opportunity for immunotherapies, and to more rapidly address the unmet needs of patients with a wide range of cancers,” said Incyte's president and CEO Hervé Hoppenot in a statement. “For these reasons, we welcome the opportunity to work with MedImmune to explore the potential of combining MEDI4736 with INCB24360.” 

AstraZeneca and MedImmune say they recently initiated other immuno-oncology combination trials including MEDI4736 with Iressa (gefitinib) and MEDI4736 with tremelimumab. AstraZeneca earlier this month also initiated a Phase III trial of MEDI4736 on its own against placebo in patients with stage III unresectable non-small cell lung cancer after chemoradiation treatment.

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