In a partnership announced today, MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics and development arm, and the University of California, San Francisco will initiate further exploration of disease biology, specifically delving into core underlying mechanisms in microbiome and regenerative medicine. With an emphasis on basic research and translational sciences, the organizations’ work will include working toward identifying biomarkers and understanding disease progression and the effects of biomarkers on clinical trial outcomes.

There will be seven-projects anticipated over three years—with the possibility of more projects being added in the future—including those related to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, severe asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The organizations believe there is an unmet need for and significant gaps in the understanding of how these diseases progress, as well as whether or not there are distinct patient subtypes that are more responsive to certain kinds of therapies. They also note that several of the aforementioned diseases seem to be increasing in occurrence, and may have greater long-lasting effects on individual health and epidemiology.

If studies proceed as planned, there is also the side bonus of developing techniques that will be able to quantify the effects of biomarkers and help predict clinical outcomes data, furthering precision medicine in those areas and offering a greater number of treatment options. Bing Yao, Ph.D., senior vice president and head of MedImmune’s Respiratory, Inflammation, and Autoimmunity Innovative Medicines Unit, said in a statement, “Combined with MedImmune’s innovative, cutting-edge science in respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmunity, as well as translational medicine, we are optimistic our collective findings will benefit the patients who are most in need.”

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