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AZ’s Interest in Immuno-oncology Grows

AstraZeneca and Medimmune, AstraZeneca PLC’s global biologics research and development unit, gave a presentation on the company’s pipeline in the area of immuno-oncology at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

Immuno-oncology involves programming or stimulating the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells, according to

 The companies reported on a number of pipeline products, including MEDI4736, an anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody for the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In addition to a trial in NSCLC, the two companies are planning further programs across multiple tumor types and stages of disease. 

It is also being tested in combination with other compounds, including with tremelimumab, an anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody, notes. This combination is also being tested in nine immuno-oncology clinical trials, which are either underway or being planned, in NSCLC. It is also being considered for trials in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and gastric, pancreatic and bladder cancer. 

“Immuno-oncology has continued to take center stage at ASCO this year, as we see more evidence of the significance of this approach for patients,” said Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca in a statement. “At AstraZeneca we have been clear in our belief that combinations hold the key to transforming clinical practice for the patients not benefiting from the currently-available immunotherapies. The data presented on the combination of MEDI4736 and tremelimumab are truly exciting.” 

In January, AstraZeneca announced that Robert Iannone would head its immuno-oncology development programs.

 By 2020 the company expects half of its new drugs will be tied into genetic testing to better identify the best treatments for patients. This area, called pharmacogenetics or pharmacogenomics, also shows promise for drugs that can only be marketed to a smaller group of patients, explains Sometimes drugs that failed overall clinical trials, but showed promise in a specific proportion of the trial’s participants, gain new life.