AstraZeneca R&D arm signs five-year deal with NIST to advance discovery, manufacturing

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

In addition to funding for seven postdoc scientists, MedImmune will supply NIST with monoclonal antibodies and other materials
In addition to funding for seven postdoc scientists, MedImmune will supply NIST with monoclonal antibodies and other materials

Related tags Pharmacology Monoclonal antibodies Research

MedImmune, the biologics R&D arm of AstraZeneca, and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have signed a five-year agreement to support research that will help advance drug discovery and biomanufacturing. 

Under the terms of the deal, MedImmune is providing first-year funding for seven NIST postdoctoral scientists, each working on research projects to better understand mechanisms of action, structures and other biological and chemical principles useful in drug development, engineering and formulation.   

Dr Michael Tarlov, head of NIST’s Biomolecular Measurement Division, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com: “One project will be to develop a mass spectral library of key cell surface proteins.  Another project will be to develop new DNA typing techniques to better identify cells lines used in the production of protein therapeutics. This will help in meeting regulatory requirements and help understand the ‘genetic drift’ of certain cell lines. Finally, the third project will be to develop a fluorescence-based method to predict the stability of freeze-dried protein therapeutics​.” 

The collaborators clarified that they will also develop methods to produce 3D structural maps with resolution at the atomic level for monoclonal antibodie and use neutron beams to understand at the molecular level why some proteins used in biopharmaceuticals unfold during their manufacture. 

In addition to the funding for the postdoctoral scientists, MedImmune will supply NIST with monoclonal antibodies and other materials. “The researchers will be working with a drug-like monoclonal antibody substance provided to NIST by MedImmune​,” Tarlov said.

Work will be conducted at both the MedImmune and NIST campuses, which are located near each other in Gaithersburg, MD. 

This partnership brings together MedImmune’s deep industry understanding and NIST’s measurement expertise to expand our knowledge of biopharmaceuticals—a growing field with huge economic and health impacts​,” said Willie May, acting under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and acting NIST director. 

The research will be conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), which allow the exchange of resources between government and private industry to advance technologies that can then be commercialized for the benefit of the public. Both parties plan to publish the results of their research under the CRADA. 

The signing of the deal comes a few months after MedImmune agreed with the UK’s University of Cambridge on neurodegenerative research​. That three year deal will aim to plug gaps in drug discovery, translational biomarker development and look for opportunities in personalized medicine to treat conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

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