News Feature | April 3, 2014

AstraZeneca Enters Drug Discovery Partnership With MRC

By Estel Grace Masangkay

AstraZeneca and the Medical Research Council (MRC) announced that they have signed into a new collaboration which aims to gain a better understanding of human disease mechanisms. The partnership will establish a joint research facility at AstraZeneca’s R&D center in Cambridge, UK.

Menelas Pangalos, EVP of Innovative Medicines and Early Development at AstraZeneca, said, “This major strategic alliance with the MRC is the first of its kind. It will further AstraZeneca’s aim of creating a truly innovative and collaborative research environment at our new site in Cambridge, where our teams will work side by side with world leading MRC scientists. Through this collaboration AstraZeneca and the MRC will push the boundaries of science to accelerate drug discovery and the development of new medicines here in the UK.”

The collaboration will run for an initial period of five years. Academic researchers will be given unprecedented access to over two million molecules in the company’s compound library, as well as its screening facilities. The MRC in turn will fund up to 15 screening proposals from a wide range of therapy areas and diseases, which will be carried out at the Center for Lead Discovery. AstraZeneca reserves the right to the first option to negotiate license for any resulting drug discovery relevant to its therapeutic areas of interest. If the company does not use the option, researchers can offer negotiations to other parties.

John Savill, CEO of the MRC, said, “This is a unique collaboration that will give MRC researchers unparalleled access to AstraZeneca’s state-of-the-art screening capabilities, world-leading infrastructure, and an extensive, high quality compound library. The agreement demonstrates the MRC and AstraZeneca’s commitment to long term investment in UK infrastructure. It is an exciting move that will fast-track research that might not otherwise have been carried out, and will ultimately mean better treatments for patients.”

The company said that some initial projects may begin as early as 2015 based on its existing research facilities.