AstraZeneca to harness power of the Secretome and develop next-generation biologics in collaboration with new Wallenberg Centre for Protein Research

11 December 2015

AstraZeneca and its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, today announced a three-year collaboration with the newly established Wallenberg Centre for Protein Research (WCPR). The collaboration aims to develop new technologies for biologics production and to identify new targets for disease research in the ground-breaking area of the Secretome - research into all proteins that are secreted by a cell or that are exposed to the outside of the cell from within the cell membrane.

The WCPR will receive funding and expertise from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, AstraZeneca, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Uppsala University and Chalmers University of Technology. Specifically, AstraZeneca and MedImmune are focusing on two initiatives:

  • AstraZeneca’s Innovative Medicines biotech unit (iMED) will screen the Secretome library using the company’s proprietary assays to identify new protein-based targets for compound development across a range of diseases.
  • The creation of new ‘cell factories’ for the large-scale production of therapeutic proteins to support MedImmune’s deep and diversifying pipeline. This work will be enabled by a detailed knowledge of protein secretion processes and promises significant improvements on the current, industry-wide methods of the manufacture of biopharmaceutical proteins.

Professor Mathias Uhlén, Professor of Microbiology, KTH, and the lead author of the world’s first genome-wide map of the human proteome including the Secretome, published this year, welcomed the collaboration, commenting: “We are delighted to partner with AstraZeneca and MedImmune as it will allow us to translate the scientific findings we have made when determining the map of proteins across the body into meaningful treatments for people with a wide range of diseases.”

Commenting at a press conference in Stockholm, where the Swedish Government and other contributors announced up to $100 million funding for protein research, Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca Chief Executive, added: “We’re tremendously excited to be part of this innovative collaboration as we explore what science can do to advance medical research. Harnessing the power of the Secretome in this unprecedented way will help us to identify new biomarkers, drug targets and ultimately develop next-generation biological treatments.” 

The Secretome accounts for approximately a third of all human proteins, which play a major role in most biological processes including those involved in cardiac regeneration, the maintenance of functioning cells for glucose balance, cancer proliferation and migration. This group of proteins is therefore considered to be an invaluable source for identifying new biomarkers, drug targets and for developing novel biologics.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1.     Uhlén et al (2015). Tissue-based map of the human proteome. Science: Vol. 347 no. 6220 doi: 10.1126/science.1260419.

About KTH Royal Institute of Technology

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm was founded in 1827 and is the largest and oldest technical university in Sweden. One third of Sweden’s technical research and engineering education capacity at university level is provided by KTH. KTH and Stockholm University jointly carry out research in biotechnology and physics at nearby AlbaNova University Center.

About the Wallenberg Centre for Protein Research

The Wallenberg Centre for Protein Research (WCPR) is a new centre for protein research with a focus on characterization of the human proteome and the development of new production platforms for biopharmaceuticals with sites at AlbaNova and SciLifeLab, KTH - Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, the Rudbeck Laboratory and SciLifeLab, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, and Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.  

About MedImmune

MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across key therapeutic areas, including respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; neuroscience; and infection and vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centres. For more information, please visit www.medimmune.com.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three main therapy areas - respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune disease (RIA), cardiovascular and metabolic disease (CVMD) and oncology – as well as in infection and neuroscience. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit: www.astrazeneca.com

An infographic on the R&D of the Secretome can be downloaded here.

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