Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO) and AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) are collaborating to test their respective cancer therapies in tandem. The collaboration will combine new-fangled therapies that will use the immune system to combat tumours.
Under the deal, the duo will jointly fund a Phase I study that combines Juno’s CAR-T therapy and antibodies developed by MedImmune, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca. The trail will focus on patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and will start later this year.
Juno’s CAR-T therapy involves extracting patient’s T cells and outfitting them with targeting technology called chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T) and then infusing them to attack the cancer cells. On the other hand, AstraZeneca’s MEDI4736 is an antibody that blocks an immune checkpoint called PD-L1. PD-L1 stops the body’s natural immune system from detecting cancerous growths.
Both the treatments have shown excellent results in monotherapy studies, and it is believed that a collaboration that administers the therapies in tandem would be a powerful therapy against cancer.
MedImmune oncology chief Ed Bradley has stated that a combination of MEDI4736 and CAR-T cell candidate will add to the program of immuno oncology clinical trials. He also stated that the move by MedImmune adds to its working with industry leading partners to develop immunotherapies to combat cancer.
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) and many other pharmaceutical companies have launched dozens of studies matching their PD-L1 or PD-1 targeting therapies with other cancer treatments.
AstraZeneca is the first pharmaceutical company to announce a collaborative trial with CAR-T. Juno has not collaborated with anyone since it went public last year.
The potential of CAR-T as a cancer-fighting therapy is well understood in immune oncology. The discipline itself is getting increasingly dependent on multi-agent combinations. Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) partnered with Kite PharmaInc (NASDAQ:KITE) this year to collaborate on CAR-T.