Cancer Research UK and MedImmune launch ground-breaking biotherapeutics research centre in Cambridge

Cancer Research UK
Life Sciences Minister George Freeman, left, at the new laboratory in Cambridge

A new laboratory that will focus on the discovery and development of novel biologic cancer treatments and diagnostics has been opened this week in Cambridge by life sciences minister George Freeman MP.

The state-of-the-art CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory, located on Granta Park, is an innovative collaboration between Cancer Research UK, its commercial arm Cancer Research Technology, and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca.

“The UK is already leading the way in cancer research, and collaborations such as this help to ensure that we convert that science into new medicines.” - Life Sciences Minister George Freeman

In this important partnership, both 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 to treat and diagnose cancer. The alliance will bring together MedImmune’s world-class human antibody phage display libraries and protein-engineering expertise with Cancer Research UK’s cancer biology expertise.  

Cancer Research UK has provided the equipment and operational funding for the laboratory and will contribute a portfolio of novel drug targets through its extensive network of principal investigators. MedImmune will manage the drug discovery process for accepted projects. 

Dr Maria Groves, head of the CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory and associate director at MedImmune, said: “This laboratory is truly a collaborative approach and its success will depend on three key factors: the application of our high-quality and diverse phage display libraries; designing a drug discovery process that will enable us to find specific potent antibodies with the right mechanism against the disease target and, finally, building a network of principal investigators who will have the opportunity to generate novel ideas for oncology therapeutics.

We are driven to engineer the best antibodies and identify which components of cancer make the best targets for treatment. There’s a lot of ground to cover and we’re delighted to be working in partnership to advance this exciting field.”

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said: “This pioneering new laboratory in Cambridge highlights the vital role that Cancer Research UK and other charities play in funding exciting medical research which has the potential to help many patients. This ambitious project unites academia and industry to translate world-leading research from the laboratory into crucial new treatments for patients. The UK is already leading the way in cancer research, and collaborations such as this help to ensure that we convert that science into new medicines.”

Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s director of drug development, said: “Increasing investment in biotherapeutic treatment forms a key part of Cancer Research UK’s research strategy.

“We’re delighted to embark on this exciting new initiative, which will give leading Cancer Research UK scientists access to the latest antibody-engineering technologies and expertise. This will create opportunities to translate breakthroughs in our understanding of cancer biology into urgently needed new cancer treatments.”

Notes to Editor

For press enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK\CRT press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, 07050 264 059.

About biotherapeutics

Biological treatments or ‘biotherapeutics’ refer to any type of treatment that is produced by – or involves – living cells. That is, instead of drugs made from chemicals synthesised in the lab – these are therapies that are based on biological processes in cells, which we can engineer to help fight cancer.

For more information see: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/biological/