AstraZeneca bolsters cancer pipeline with partnerships

August 14 01:08 2015

AstraZeneca has reached agreement on three high-profile partnerships for oncology medicines that could generate more than $1 billion in revenue. The company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Fairfax, struck a $10 million deal last week with Heptares Therapeutics, a United Kingdom-based biotech unit of Sosei, a Japanese company.

Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will have exclusive global rights to Heptares’ potential cancer medicine identified as HTL-107 along with additional compounds in a deal that could top $500 million. Herptares’ compounds target the mechanisms cancer tumors develop to evade the immune system. The medicines also promote cancer-fighting cells within the body.

In a second agreement, AstraZeneca’s MedImmune subsidiary entered into an exclusive clinical trial collaboration with Mirati Therapeutics, a San Diego company. The partnership will investigate the safety of MedImmune’s experimental non-small cell lung cancer therapy, known as MEDI4736, in combination with a Mirati anti-cancer compound. MEDI4736, also known as durvalumab, was also created to destroy the mechanisms used by cancer cells to avoid immune system detection.

AstraZeneca also reached an agreement Monday with Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., for its INO-3112 therapy, which targets cancers caused by the human papillomavirus types 16 and 17. Inovio will receive $27.5 million for the drug with potential future payments of up to $700 million. INO-3112is in Phase I and II clinical trials for cervical and head and neck cancers by stimulating responses from T-cells to destroy tumors created by HPV, responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancer.

AstraZeneca spokeswoman Michele Meixell said the agreements will increase the company’s share of the $100 billion global cancer market. The need demand for cancer medicines is so strong that total global sales of oncology medicines could reach $147 billion by 2018, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a unit of drug data researcher IMS Health.