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Babraham scientists establish cancer-focussed Knowledge Exchange collaboration with AstraZeneca

Babraham scientists establish cancer-focussed collaboration with AstraZeneca - 9 July 2013. Babraham Institute
News from: Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is one of three world-leading research institutions in Cambridge that has today (9 July) entered into a strategic alliance with AstraZeneca. The underpinning bioscience carried out by researchers from the Babraham Institute will play an important role in the alliance, helping advance cancer research and develop and evaluate new therapeutic strategies to tackle prostate and pancreatic cancers. Other projects between the partners will study cancer tumour mutations and aim to better understand how the genetic makeup of an individual patient's cancer determines their response to treatment.

This represents a significant alliance between scientists from AstraZeneca's small molecule and MedImmune's biologics units and members of the Cambridge Cancer Centre, which brings together researchers across the region from the University, affiliated Institutes and the NHS.

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK and has an extremely poor prognosis and few treatments are currently available. Developing methods for earlier detection and new therapeutic strategies are crucial if survival rates, which have improved little in the last forty years, are to improve.

Babraham Scientists, together with Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, the Cambridge University Department of Oncology at Addenbrooke's Hospital and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will be evaluating new therapeutic approaches for pancreatic cancer patients. It is hoped that this two year collaboration on pre-clinical and clinical oncology projects between researchers and clinicians, will identify the best drug combination partners for AstraZeneca's investigational compound selumetinib in pre-clinical models.

Selumetinib, a molecule known as a MEK inhibitor, halts the activity of a particular biochemical signalling pathways within cells that are often overactive in certain cancers. It has been shown in Phase I/II studies to be clinically active and is tolerated, as both monotherapy and in combination with other chemotherapy regimens, in clinical studies across a range of solid tumours.

Susan Galbraith, Head of AstraZeneca's Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit said, "These are the first research collaborations AstraZeneca has signed with Cambridge-based partners since announcing our intention to build a world-class research and development centre on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. It is fitting that the focus of these collaborations is on delivering new medicines for cancer because our Cambridge facility will represent AstraZeneca's largest centre for oncology research. We look forward to having our scientists work side-by-side with some of the UK's most distinguished medical institutions.

"All three of the collaborations we are announcing today advance our work in the area of personalised healthcare, helping us to understand and address the underlying mechanisms of disease so that we can find the right medicines for the right patients."

Dr Claire Cockcroft, Babraham's Knowledge Exchange Manager said, "Collaborative partnerships between world-leading research organisations, industry, clinicians and NHS centres will play an increasingly critical role driving the development of novel therapies and evaluating drug targets to address unmet healthcare challenges and improve patient wellbeing. Working together to increase understanding of the basic biology underpinning mechanisms of drug action and how patients respond to treatments will bring a more personalised approach to healthcare, where genome-based information will enable patients to be matched to the most appropriate treatments."

David Neal, Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Honorary consultant Urological Surgeon at Addenbrooke's Hospital, said, "I am delighted about this partnership on the Biomedical Campus between AstraZeneca, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the Cambridge University Department of Oncology at Addenbrooke's Hospital. It is a wonderful example of how collaboration between world-class Pharma and cutting edge Science will lead to benefits for patients through better understanding individual variation in cancer behaviour."

ENDS

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding (a total of £36.2M in 2011-12) BBSRC, undertakes international quality life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. The Institute's research provides greater understanding of the biological events that underlie the normal functions of cells and the implication of failure or abnormalities in these processes. Research focuses on signalling and genome regulation, particularly the interplay between the two and how epigenetic signals can influence important physiological adaptations during the lifespan of an organism. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and healthier ageing. www.babraham.ac.uk

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit: www.astrazeneca.com .

About the Cambridge Cancer Centre

The Cambridge Cancer Centre is made up of partner institutions including the University of Cambridge, the Hutchison MRC Research Centre, Cancer Research UK and the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Within the Centre, there are approximately 140 senior research investigators in addition to the NHS consultants and health care professionals who treat patients. The mission of the Cambridge Cancer Centre is to provide ground breaking basic science in cancer, high quality translational research to benefit patients and to integrate this with the highest quality cancer service for prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.

About Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. The charity's pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated. Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years. The organisation supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses. Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org .

About the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute is a major research centre which aims to take the scientific strengths of Cambridge to practical application for the benefit of cancer patients. The Institute is a unique partnership between the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK. It is housed in the Li Ka Shing Centre, a state-of-the-art research facility located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus which was generously funded by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, Cambridge University, Cancer Research UK, The Atlantic Philanthropies and a range of other donors. For more information visit www.cambridgecancer.org.uk .

About the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology at Addenbrooke's Hospital

The University Department of Oncology is part of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge and is based within 6 locations on or close to the Addenbrooke's Hospital site. It is a large department, with both University and NHS components, where clinical and basic science converges to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer related research. Its main focus of research is the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of cancer. It aims to deliver the best possible care to patients, build a world renowned environment for laboratory and clinical research and provide an education programme that generates world class oncology clinicians and research scientists.

About Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH)

CUH is one of the largest and best-known hospitals in the country. As well as delivering care through Addenbrooke's and the Rosie, it is also: