New Collaboration Forms for Immunotherapy Regimens in Hematologic Malignancies

April 27, 2015
Bill Loguidice

MedImmune Limited, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca PLC, and Celgene International II Sàrl, a subsidiary of Celgene Corporation, have formed a strategic collaboration for the development and commercialization of AstraZeneca’s anti-programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) agent MEDI4736.

Jacqualyn A. Fouse, PhD

MedImmune Limited, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca PLC, and Celgene International II Sàrl, a subsidiary of Celgene Corporation, have formed a strategic collaboration for the development and commercialization of AstraZeneca’s anti-programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) agent MEDI4736. The collaboration focuses on the agent as both monotherapy and in combination with other AstraZeneca and Celgene investigational and existing cancer treatments for a range of blood cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndromes, and multiple myeloma.1,2

“The potential of rationally combining immunotherapies such as MEDI4736 with existing and novel hematology compounds creates new opportunities for patients with blood cancers to live longer, better lives,” stated Jacqualyn A. Fouse, PhD, president of Global Hematology and Oncology for Celgene. “This strategic collaboration leverages the deep expertise of AstraZeneca/MedImmune in immuno-oncology, along with the experience of Celgene in the study and treatment of blood cancers.”3

Over time, the collaboration may expand to include other strategic assets, according to company statements.1,2Because AstraZeneca lacks some specific expertise in hematology, partnering with Celgene may enable MEDI4736 and other potentially valuable hematologic agents to be brought to the market more quickly.4The drug has already demonstrated efficacy in a variety of solid tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck cancers, and melanoma.

The AstraZeneca and Celgene partnership is expected to become effective in the second quarter of 2015.1,2Once the agreement is official, Celgene will make an upfront payment of $450 million to AstraZeneca. Celgene will serve as the lead on development across all clinical trials and will assume all research and development costs until the end of 2016. After 2016, it will assume 75% of these costs. Celgene is also responsible for global commercialization of any approved treatments. AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and book all sales of MEDI4736, as well as pay a royalty to Celgene on worldwide sales in hematological indications. The royalty rate starts at 70% and will decrease to approximately half of the sales of MEDI4736 in hematological indications over a period of 4 years.1,2

“This agreement is a great example of how we are accelerating the development of medical innovation in our portfolio in collaboration with other experts, in order to bring life-enhancing new medicines to patients faster,” said Bahija Jallal, PhD, executive vice president at MedImmune, in a company press release.1“Together with Celgene, we are designing a program for our anti-PD-L1 that will explore its full clinical potential as a game-changing treatment that could activate the patients’ immune system to fight and change the course of blood cancers in this area of high unmet need,” she added.

References

  1. AstraZeneca enters strategic immuno-oncology collaboration with Celgene Corporation to develop PD-L1 inhibitor programme for patients with serious blood cancers [news release]. Wilmington, DE: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP.http://www.astrazeneca.com/Media/Press-releases/Article/20150424--astrazeneca-enters-strategic-immuno-oncology-collaboration-Celgene-PD-L1-inhibitor-programme. Published April 24, 2015. Accessed April 26, 2015.
  2. Celgene Corporation enters into strategic immuno-oncology collaboration with AstraZeneca to develop PD-L1 inhibitor program for patients with serious blood cancers [news release]. Boudry, Switzerland: Celgene. http://ir.celgene.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=908439. Published April 24, 2015. Accessed April 26, 2015.
  3. Spring Bioscience. PD-L1/CD274 (SP142). http://www.springbio.com/products/PD-L1-CD274-SP142-/M442. Accessed April 26, 2015.
  4. Thomas H. AstraZeneca’s deals prompt doubts about quality.http://www.wsj.com/articles/astrazenecas-deals-prompt-doubts-about-quality-14298868. Accessed April 26, 2015. .