AstraZeneca and MRC Technology, the commercialisation company for the UK’s Medical Research Council, today announced a new strategic collaboration to share access to their collections of compounds to aid the search for potential new treatments for serious diseases.
The companies will combine up to 100,000 compounds from AstraZeneca’s collection with the MRC Technology compound library of approximately 50,000 compounds. MRC Technology 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.
AstraZeneca and MRC Technology 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.
In the initial phase of the collaboration the combined libraries will be screened for five biological targets selected by AstraZeneca in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular, neuroscience, and infection. MRC Technology will choose five additional targets to explore.
“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 AstraZeneca.
Alan Lamont, Director Science & Technology Alliances at AstraZeneca, 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 MRC Technology added, “This agreement signals a new era in pharma/academic co-operation. 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.”