AstraZeneca and Kyowa Hakko Kirin partner on immuno-oncology

AstraZeneca(AZ) is to work with Kyowa Hakko Kirin on a phase I/Ib immuno-oncology study that will evaluate two separate combinations of three investigational compounds in multiple solid tumours.

The study will evaluate AZ’s anti-programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) antibody, MEDI4736, in combination with Kyowa Hakko Kirin’s anti-CCR4 antibody, mogamulizumab, and AZ’s anti-CTLA-4 antibody tremelimumab, in combination with mogamulizumab.

The compounds are part of a new class of immunotherapy cancer treatments, which use the body’s immune system to help fight cancer. MEDI4736 and tremelimumab block the signals that help tumours avoid detection by the immune system, while mogamulizumab suppresses some of the immune cells that shield the tumour from the immune system.

AZ is hoping to bolster its oncology pipeline with MEDI4736 and olaparib, which is making progress against several tumour types.

Other big players are active in the promising field of immunotherapy combinations, including Bristol-Myers Squibb(BMS), Roche and Merck. Earlier this month, BMS and Ono received the first marketing approval in the world for PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo.

AZ and Kyowa Hakko Kirin will co-fund this latest study, which will be conducted by the Japanese biotech. The phase I part of the study aims to establish a recommended dose regimen and phase Ib will assess the safety and efficacy of the two combinations. Results from these studies will determine future clinical developments.

Briggs Morrison, AZ’s executive vice president, global medicines development and chief medical officer, said: “We believe that combination therapy in immuno-oncology has the potential to be one of the most effective ways of treating cancer. Our partnership with Kyowa Hakko Kirin provides the opportunity to explore two novel and exciting combinations.”

“With recent progress in the field of cancer immunotherapy, we have the potential to bring significant benefits to patients,” said Yoichi Sato, managing executive officer, vice president, 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 AZ to explore these combinations in multiple types of cancer.”

AZ and its biologics division MedImmune have a broad programme of immuno-oncology combination trials underway, including MEDI4736 with Incyte’s oral indoleamine dioxygenase-1 (IDO1) inhibitor, INCB24360 and MEDI4736 with Advaxis’ immunotherapy vaccine, ADXS-HPV.

Market analysts Decision Resources forecast that the immunotherapy market will grow from just over $1 billion in 2012 to nearly $9 billion in 2022 in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and Japan.


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