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MedImmune and Mirati to partner on lung cancer combo

pharmafile | August 6, 2015 | News story | Research and Development AstraZeneca, Cancer, MedImmune, Mirati, Mirati Therapeutics, NSCLC, durvalumab, immuno-oncology, immunotherapy, lung cancer, mocetinostat 

MedImmune is entering into an exclusive clinical trial collaboration with US-based Mirati Therapeutics to test a novel immuno-oncology combination in lung cancer. 

The Phase I/II study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of MedImmune’s investigational anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, durvalumab, in combination with Mirati’s investigational anti-cancer, mocetinostat. 

Durvalumab is designed to counter the tumour’s immune-evading tactics by blocking a signal that helps the tumour avoid detection. Mocetinostat selectively inhibits class I histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes. This has the potential to enhance the positive effect of checkpoint inhibitors, such as durvalumab, on tumour immunity. 

The combination will initially be studied in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but the two companies may explore additional indications in future. 

MedImmune is Astrazeneca’s biologics research and development subsidiary, while oncology specialists Mirati focuses on the genetic and epigenetic drivers of cancer. Mirati will conduct and fund the initial Phase I/II clinical trial, which is expected to start in 2016, and MedImmune will supply durvalumab.

If the initial clinical trial is a success, MedImmune will have an exclusive time period in which to negotiate a commercial license for the combination in this indication. 

Charles Baum, managing director, president and CEO at Mirati, says: “There is a growing body of evidence that mocetinostat may enhance the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors such as PD-L1 antibodies. 

“Mocetinostat selectively targets specific HDACs that may increase the efficacy of durvalumab in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, as well as other tumour types. We look forward to working with MedImmune on this novel combination to potentially improve outcomes for patients.”

David Berman, senior vice president and head of the oncology innovative medicines unit at MedImmune, says: “The collaboration with Mirati is yet another example of our combination-focused immuno-oncology strategy and our comprehensive approach in lung cancer as a key disease area. We continue to follow the scientific evidence to explore novel combination treatments to meet unmet patient need, with durvalumab as the cornerstone.”

Joel Levy

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