Groundbreaking scientific collaboration gives UK academia access to selected AstraZeneca compounds

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Following a unique landmark agreement between AstraZeneca and the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) a wide range of compounds will be made available to UK medical researchers next year. In a new type of collaboration, academia will be granted access to 22 clinical and preclinical compounds developed by AstraZeneca. Though making individual compounds available to external academic investigators is not unusual, the breadth and open-innovation nature of this collaboration is unique because it provides unprecedented access to well characterised clinical and preclinical candidate molecules to investigators across all UK academic institutions.

There is significant unmet need in diseases both within and outside AstraZeneca’s current research focus. This collaboration builds on the sizable investment made in developing candidate drugs within AstraZeneca, by helping researchers to explore their potential more broadly with the hope that they will find new future medicines. It also helps AstraZeneca explore areas of unmet patient need beyond its current disease area focus, leveraging great external science in a way that is highly flexible and cost effective.

The New Opportunities Innovative Medicines Unit (iMed) in AstraZeneca has been central in establishing this research collaboration with the MRC and has acted as the interface with the other AstraZeneca iMeds to agree which compounds would be eligible.

Clive Morris, VP, New Opportunities iMed, said that “This ‘Open Innovation’ approach brings together the strengths of AstraZeneca, the MRC and UK Academia into what I hope will be a really potent mix, bringing forward really exciting new ideas that could transform our understanding of some diseases. It highlights an openness to new scientific thinking and also places external scientific collaboration right at the heart of what we do. It is also an excellent way to broaden our portfolio of activities into new diseases for AstraZeneca, leveraging the wealth of expertise across UK academia”.

AstraZeneca and the MRC will invite preclinical and clinical research proposals from across the UK academic community to investigate the compounds in a range of diseases, with a view to finding new treatment opportunities. AstraZeneca will work with the academic collaborators to develop the best scientific proposals, and the MRC will select the highest quality proposals for funding, awarding up to £10 million in total to fund the successful proposals. The successful applicants will then work collaboratively with AstraZeneca to deliver the studies.

David Brennan, AstraZeneca’s Chief Executive Officer, said “Innovative collaborations are playing a crucial role in finding ways to unlock the potential of new treatments. The UK has a strong heritage of research excellence in life sciences. We hope that in sharing these valuable compounds with academic scientists through the MRC, new discoveries will be made by exploring additional uses of these compounds.”