The big pharma companies Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca will combine two of their cancer drugs to make the perfect cocktail against solid tumors. They have entered a clinical collaboration to evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of AstraZeneca’s anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor (MEDI4736), in combination with Cyramza (ramucirumab), Lilly’s VEGF Receptor 2 antiangiogenic cancer medicine.
MEDI4736 is a monoclonal antibody developed by MedImmune, the global biologics R&D part of AstraZeneca, that boosts the immune system against cancer. Cyramza is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) Receptor 2 antagonist that starves tumors of blood supply. Preclinical data indicate that combining VEGFR inhibitors with immune checkpoint blockades has the potential to enhance anti-tumor activity.
“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.” said Richard Gaynor, M.D., senior vice president, product development and medical affairs, Lilly Oncology.
Over the last few weeks, AstraZeneca and MedImmune have been studying combinations of MEDI4736 with cancer fighting candidates of other drug developers to put together innovative drugs. Last month, the two companies have already partnered with Celgene and Innate Pharma and launched a €1.8B pair of immune-oncology combo collaborations.
This partnership is another step for AstraZeneca and Lilly to improve their pipeline and develop a new treatment. Indeed more and more big pharma and biotech companies need external partners to help them make the most of their experimental drugs. Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs is also testing a similar combination of its anti-PD-L1 drug MPDL3280A and its antiangiogenic medicine Avastin to develop and improve therapies.
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