Immunocore Limited, a world-leading biotechnology company developing novel biological drugs to treat cancer and other diseases, and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca have just entered into a second effective collaboration for a potential skin cancer treatment.

It concerns melanoma which is a form of skin cancer that accounts for less than five per cent of cases but causes the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. Incidence rates are increasing more rapidly than for any other cancer and by 2019 there are forecast to be around 227,000 cases diagnosed worldwide each year.

In this new agreement, Immunocore will conduct a Phase Ib/II clinical trial combining MedImmune’s investigational checkpoint inhibitors (MEDI4736) with Immunocore’s lead T-cell receptor based investigational therapeutic (tremelimumab and IMCgp100), for the potential treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma. MEDI4736, tremelimumab and IMCgp100 are members of a new class of cancer treatments known as immunotherapies, which are designed to enhance the body’s own immune system in fighting cancer. 

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Immunocore and MedImmune will collaborate to establish a dosing regimen for IMCgp100 combined with MEDI4736 and/or tremelimumab, as part of the Phase Ib study. The Phase II study will assess the safety and efficacy of the different combinations.

The companies have a pre-existing research collaboration and licensing agreement announced in January 2014 to develop novel cancer therapies using Immunocore’s Immune Mobilising Monoclonal T-Cell Receptor Against Cancer technology.

“We are pleased to expand our partnership with Immunocore, a leader in the discovery and development of novel T-cell receptor-based drugs, to include this combination clinical trial in melanoma,” said Dr. Ed Bradley, Senior Vice President and Head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines unit, MedImmune. “Immuno-oncology is a priority area for us and by employing combinations with biological synergies, we believe we have the potential to enhance treatment effectiveness and ultimately to see improved overall survival rates. Our partnership with Immunocore is further evidence of our belief that combination therapies have the potential to be one of the most effective ways of treating cancer.” 

AstraZeneca and MedImmune have a broad programme of immuno-oncology combination trials planned and underway to address multiple immune pathways, harnessing the company’s own extensive pipeline and working in partnership to explore the significant potential of immunotherapies in transforming the way cancer patients are treated.

MedImmune has also partnered a few days ago with Humabs to develop an Influenza A treatment, have a glimpse here!

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