Earlier today, MedImmune, the lobal biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and Tanabe Research Laboratories, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, a research-driven pharmaceutical company based in Osaka Japan, announced that they have entered into a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement under which Tanabe Research Laboratories will use MedImmune’s pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD)-based warhead and linker technology to generate monospecific and bispecific antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for investigation in various cancers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Tanabe will exclusively license MedImmune’s next generation PBDs. The companies will partner to combine MedImmune’s PBD technology with Tanabe’s antibodies to develop next generation ADCs against a number of cancer targets. MedImmune will receive an upfront payment, development and commercial milestone payments, as well as single digit royalties on worldwide net sales.

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation will be responsible for the pre-clinical research, development, manufacturing and later-stage activities, including global commercialization. MedImmune has the option to an exclusive license for the development and commercialization of the programs in the United States and Europe at the conclusion of a Phase Ib trial.

Selectively targeting cancer
Antibody-drug Conjugates or ADCs are a developing area of cancer drug technology that offers selective targeting of cancer cells. MedImmune’s proprietary PBD technology provides cytotoxic agents, or warheads, for attachment to specific cancer-targeting antibodies. This targeted ADC approach has the potential to optimize the delivery of the cancer drug to the tumor. MedImmune has an active internal ADC pipeline with candidates nearing the clinic, and Tanabe has an active program of mono- and bispecific-antibodies targeting cancer cells.

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Proprietary tumor specific antibodies
“We are very pleased to join forces with MedImmune to further exploit our proprietary tumor specific antibodies,” noted Naoki Sakurai, Ph.D, Tanabe Research Laboratories’ Chief Executive Officer. “This is an important start for our pioneering work in the field of mono- and bi-specific therapeutic ADCs and we are excited to explore innovative therapeutic approaches in collaboration with one of the world’s leading biotech companies,” added Roland Newman, Ph.D., Tanabe Research Laboratories’ Chief Scientific Officer.

“Developing next generation antibody-drug conjugates, including our proprietary PBD technology, is one of our key strategic areas of focus in oncology,” explained Ronald Herbst, Vice President, Oncology Research & Development, MedImmune. “Today’s collaboration with Tanabe Research Laboratories supports our efforts to grow our ADC portfolio through both internal activities and external partnerships, with the goal of generating novel treatments to meaningfully improve the lives of cancer patients.”


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