AstraZeneca and MedImmune, the Company’s global biologics research and development arm, today announced that they have entered into an exclusive collaboration agreement with Celgene Corporation, a global leader in haematological cancers, for the development and commercialisation of MEDI4736 across a range of blood cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndromes and multiple myeloma.
MEDI4736 is an investigational immune checkpoint inhibitor, directed against programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1). Signals from PD-L1 help tumours avoid detection by the immune system. MEDI4736 blocks these signals, countering the tumour’s immune-evading tactics. Within the collaboration, MEDI4736 will be assessed both as monotherapy and in combination with other AstraZeneca and Celgene potential and existing cancer medicines. Over time, the collaboration could expand to include other assets.
Under the terms of the agreement, Celgene will make an upfront payment of $450 million to AstraZeneca in relation to MEDI4736. Celgene will lead on development across all clinical trials within the collaboration and will take on all research and development costs until the end of 2016, after which they will take on 75 percent of these costs. Celgene will also be responsible for global commercialisation of approved treatments. AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and book all sales of MEDI4736 and will pay a royalty to Celgene on worldwide sales in haematological indications. The royalty rate will start at 70 percent and will decrease to approximately half of the sales of MEDI4736 in haematological indications over a period of four years.
Dr. Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President at MedImmune, said: “We are excited about our strategic collaboration with Celgene, a globally recognised leader in treatments for haematological cancers. This agreement is a great example of how we are accelerating the development of medical innovation in our portfolio in collaboration with other experts, in order to bring life-enhancing new medicines to patients faster. Together with Celgene, we are designing a programme for our anti-PD-L1 that will explore its full potential as a game-changing treatment that could activate the patients’ immune system to fight and change the course of blood cancers in this area of high unmet need.”
“The potential of rationally combining immunotherapies such as MEDI4736 with existing and novel haematology compounds creates new opportunities for patients with blood cancers to live longer, better lives,” said Jacqualyn A. Fouse, Ph.D., President, Global Haematology and Oncology for Celgene. “This strategic collaboration leverages the deep expertise of AstraZeneca/MedImmune in immuno-oncology along with the experience of Celgene in the study and treatment of blood cancers. This collaboration advances Celgene’s already deep, diverse scientific platform to include checkpoint inhibitors, an area of significant promise in haematology.”
The collaboration agreement will become effective upon the expiration or termination of applicable waiting periods under all applicable antitrust laws, if any, and is expected to become effective in the second quarter of 2015. AstraZeneca’s 2015 financial guidance is unaffected by today’s announcement.