News Feature | August 1, 2014

AstraZeneca, Kyowa-Hakko-Kirin To Collaborate In Immuno-Oncology Study

By Suzanne Hodsden


AstraZeneca announced that they will co-fund a study to be conducted by Kyowa Hakko Kirin that will test two separate combinations of three experimental compounds in the hopes of developing safe and effective immuno-oncology treatments.

In these studies, both AstraZeneca’s antibodies, MEDI4736 and anti-CTLA-4 antibody tremelimumab will be combined with Kyowa Hakko Kirin’s antibody, mogamulizumab. In the Phase I study, researchers hope to establish a correct dosage, and Phase 1b will test the combination’s success in boosting immune systems suppressed or blocked by cancerous cells.

Immuno-oncology research over the past thirty years has yielded strong evidence that the human immune system can recognize tumors given the correct pharmaceutical therapy and might provide the safest and least toxic way of destroying cancerous malignancy.

According to Yoichi Sato, Managing Executive Officer, VP, Head of Research and Development Division of Kyowa Hakko Kirin, “Given the potential synergistic activity of our anti-CCR4 antibody when combined with immune checkpoint inhibitors, we look forward to collaborating with AstraZeneca to explore these combinations in multiple types of cancer.”

If progress in this field continues as it has, the immuno-oncology sector is poised to become a billion dollar market and is expected to transform the way cancer is treated. Bladder cancer, a disease with previously limited treatment options, showed a 50 percent response rate to immuno-oncology treatment when combined with traditional chemotherapy and radiation.

This collaboration between AstraZeneca and Kyowa Hakko Kirin is one of many similar trials being conducted in the immuno-oncology field. AstraZeneca has also recently partnered with Advaxis through its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, to study MEDI4736 in combination with Advaxis’ lead cancer immunotherapy vaccine, ADXS-HPV in the treatment of refractory human papillomavirus (HPV) associated cervical cancer. In another collaboration announced in May with biopharmaceutical company Incyte, MEDI4736 will be combined with Incyte’s oral indoleamine dioxygenase-1 inhibitor, INCB24360.