Scientists at the new laboratory – which is at a site leased by Cancer Research UK in Granta Park near Cambridge - will try to identify biopharmaceutical cancer treatments and diagnostics based on targets provided by the charity according to a spokeswoman.
“Cancer Research UK and MedImmune scientists will work together in the laboratory and collaborate closely to share knowledge and expertise to discover and develop novel biologics.
“Cancer Research UK will contribute a portfolio of novel drug targets through its network of cancer researchers. MedImmune will provide access to its human antibody phage display libraries and will manage the drug discovery process” the spokeswoman said.
The laboratory will house technologies for the growth and maintenance of cell lines – including tissue culture labs, liquid handling robots and high content microscopy - but not facilities for large scale production.
The spokeswoman explained that: “If a new biologic drug is created MedImmune will have first opportunity to take on the manufacturing, if they opt to not develop the drug the opportunity will then pass to Cancer Research UK.”
The aim is to have identify a first clinical candidate at the facility by mid-2019.
The laboratory - called the CRUK–MEDI Alliance Laboratory - can be used by all CRUK-funded scientists who apply to conduct research at the site.
The productivity review was followed by the closure of various research sites, including the Alderly Park facility that was sold in 2014. AstraZeneca has sought to replace reduced in-house capacity with external collaborations.
Last October, for example, MedImmune teamed up with academics at the University of Cambridge in a three year collaboration focused on discovering drug candidates for neurodegenerative diseases.
Since then AstraZeneca has signed early-phase R&D deals with the US National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), PatientLikeMe, the Lead Discovery Center and contract research organisation (CRO) Charles River Laboratories (CRL).