AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly have decided to become a cancer-fighter duo by combining two of their most promising drugs in a new clinical trial. The combination of AstraZeneca’s immuno-oncology medication, MEDI4736 (currently in Phase III) and Eli Lilly’s Cyramza will be administered to cancer patients diagnosed with solid tumors.
Both pharmaceutical companies hope to reap the benefits of this collaboration in terms of establishing safety guidelines, dosing regimens as well as potentially opening expansion cohorts depending on the tumor types being studied.
AstraZeneca and Lilly have come to the agreement that Lilly will be sponsoring the trial.
In one of Lilly’s statements, its senior-VP, Richard Gaynor, expressed his enthusiasm in respects to this collaboration. It is expected to herald a new-age of cancer research and immuno-oncology treatments by using two promising agents.
“[This] novel combination […] will one day provide new cancer treatment solutions,” he said.
AstraZeneca’s PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, MEDI4736, is a monoclonal antibody. It acts by targeting programmed cell death ligand 1 and increasing the chances that cancerous cells are detected in a timely fashion by the immune system.
Lilly’s Cyramza, or ramucirumab, targets vascular endothelial growth factor receptors and blocks their activation by blocking its receptor ligands. The drug virtually blocks the vital cancer supply of cancerous tissues.
According to preliminary tests, the theoretical combination of immune checkpoint blockers with VEGFR inhibitors could significantly increase anti-tumor activity. That’s why other pharmaceutical companies have already started experimenting with the combination. Roche, for instance, is conducting trials with an Avastin- MPDL3280A combination.
Mr. Gaynor stated that immune checkpoint inhibitor development had represented a major breakthrough in cancer therapy. But using the medication in combination with other, well documented therapies may be even more interesting.
AstraZeneca has made great strides in collaborating with external partners so as to further advance the efficacy of its cancer drugs. This collaboration with Lilly follows another collaboration that the company had with Celgene.
Much like Mr. Gaynor, AstraZeneca’s head of global medicines development and immuno-oncology, Robert Iannone is confident that such a partnership has the unique potential of transforming cancer treatment and providing better care to patients. In the end, it is patients who are the beneficiaries of such trials.
Following the announcement, Eli Lilly shares strengthened considerably on Friday with 2.09 percent, reaching $77.93 at 10:33 AM (EDT).
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