AstraZeneca, Lilly collaborate for immuno-oncology combination clinical trial in solid tumours

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AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) have revealed about their collaboration for clinical trials to evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of AstraZeneca’s investigational anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, MEDI4736, in combination with ramucirumab (CYRAMZA®), Lilly’s VEGF Receptor 2 antiangiogenic cancer medicine.

The planned study will assess the combination as a treatment for patients with advanced solid tumours.

The Phase I study is expected to establish the safety and a recommended dosing regimen, with the potential to open expansion cohorts in various tumours of interest, for the combination of MEDI4736 and ramucirumab. Under the terms of the agreement, the trial will be sponsored by Lilly. Additional details of the collaboration, including tumour types to be studied and financial terms, were not disclosed.

MEDI4736 is a monoclonal antibody developed by MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm, directed against programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1). Signals from PD-L1 help tumours avoid detection by the immune system. Ramucirumab is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) Receptor 2 antagonist that specifically binds and blocks activation of VEGF Receptor 2 by blocking the binding of VEGF receptor ligands VEGF-A, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D. Preclinical data indicate that combining VEGFR inhibitors with immune checkpoint blockades, such as PD-L1 targeted agents, has the potential to enhance anti-tumour activity.

Robert Iannone, Head of Immuno-oncology, Global Medicines Development at AstraZeneca, said: “We believe that combination therapy in immuno-oncology has the potential to transform the way cancer is treated. MEDI4736 is supported by a comprehensive development programme and is emerging as a cornerstone of our combination-focused immuno-oncology pipeline targeting multiple tumour types. Our collaboration with Lilly is a great addition to our programme and provides the opportunity to explore another exciting, novel combination that could deliver important clinical benefit to cancer patients.”

“The development of immune checkpoint inhibitors has been one of the more exciting research advancements in recent oncology history, but it is going to be even more interesting to see how these inhibitors can be combined with other proven targeted therapies,” said Richard Gaynor, M.D., senior vice president, product development and medical affairs, Lilly Oncology. “This collaboration represents the next wave of immuno-oncology research by bringing together two innovative medicines – Lilly’s CYRAMZA and AstraZeneca’s MEDI4736 – as a novel combination that we hope will one day provide new cancer treatment solutions.”