Collaborations in Cambridge
Our presence in Cambridge is proving to be transformative for our company and for patients. We currently have over two hundred partnerships across the Cambridge ecosystem with academia, business and leading scientific institutions. Here is a flavour of some of our current collaborations.
University of Cambridge
We have over 130 collaborations underway with the University of Cambridge including PhD and Post Doc programmes. One of our collaborations, Project Beacon, was a five-year project leading to a number of breakthroughs. For example, work by Professor Clemens Kaminski on high-throughput imaging of viruses resulted in a technique which is now being used on AstraZeneca’s production line as part of our quality control for flu vaccines.
Medical Research Council
The Blue Sky collaboration was established in 2014, when a research fund was set up between the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) and AstraZeneca to support a range of pre-clinical research projects. The aim is to improve our understanding of fundamental biology and disease and encourage innovative scientific thinking by sharing knowledge and technologies. Projects involve scientists from the two organisations working side by side, either within the LMB building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, or in AstraZeneca research facilities. Projects supported by the fund are not specifically targeted towards drug development but feed into existing research and development activities of the two organisations, with results published in peer reviewed journals.
Imperial College London
We have a collaborative programme with Imperial College London and their BSc Medical Bioscience course to support 20-week placements for up to 14 students annually within our R&D organisations.
Our collaboration with Bicycle Therapeutics launched in 2016. Bicycles® are a new modality that have the potential to become part of the next generation of therapeutics, combining specificity, potency, and attractive drug-like properties. In collaboration with Bicycle Therapeutics, we are developing Bicycle-based molecules against a wide range of drug targets in two of our therapy areas, Respiratory & Immunology and Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism.
A collaboration with Horizon Discovery will enable the adoption of Horizon’s Edit-R™ CRISPR libraries for both gene knockout and activation studies in an arrayed (one gene per well) format. As part of this agreement, we also join the Genomics Discovery Initiative, a collaborative functional genomic screening community facilitated by Horizon.
A collaboration agreement was signed in 2019 with BenevolentAI, for application of AI and machine learning approaches to generate knowledge graphs and increase our understanding of the underlying disease biology of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The two and a half year collaboration is combining our data with BenevolentAI’s biomedical knowledge graph and target identification platform. The first novel AI-generated CKD therapeutic target as a result of this collaboration has entered into our drug development portfolio. In addition to continuing to deliver novel targets for both conditions, the programme is enhancing our AI capabilities and transforming the way we process, correlate and use data to generate disease hypotheses.
Cancer Research UK
A number of our scientists work alongside Cancer Research UK colleagues, as part of the Cambridge Institute.
Functional Genomics Centre:
AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK have a collaboration in Cambridge that aims to drive forward new medicines and deepen our understanding of the biology of cancer. The Functional Genomics Centre opened in 2019 and is located within the University of Cambridge’s Milner Therapeutics Institute on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. It is aiming to be a centre of excellence in genetic screening, cancer modelling and big data processing, and will utilise CRISPR technology to create new biological models more reflective of human disease.
The Antibody Alliance Laboratory (AAL)
The AAL is a strategic alliance with Cancer Research UK focused on accelerating the translation of novel science into antibody diagnostics and therapeutics with applications across oncology, immunology and autoimmunity. The alliance leverages AstraZeneca’s antibody drug discovery capabilities, the deep biology expertise of academic researchers and the operational excellence of our partner Cancer Research UK to identify novel antibodies and targeting mechanisms that have the potential to deliver ground-breaking scientific discoveries.