MedImmune and University of Cambridge announce oncology research collaboration

MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and the University of Cambridge today announced they have entered into a three-year oncology research collaboration. This partnership aims to advance cancer research by using imaging technologies to measure key biologic changes within growing tumours.

MedImmune will contribute both funding and a post-doctoral scientist to work within the laboratory of Professor Kevin Brindle at the University of Cambridge in the area of tumour targeted therapies (TTTs), a key strategic approach within MedImmune’s oncology portfolio. TTTs encompass antibodies that are ‘armed’ to kill tumour cells, including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) that selectively aim powerful drugs at cancer cells.

The University of Cambridge is developing novel clinically relevant approaches -- using magnetic resonance-based molecular imaging -- to detect the earliest signs of a tumour’s response to treatment, including cell death.  These technologies may help MedImmune identify effective therapies earlier in the development process, allowing for more rapid delivery of drugs to patients. 

“MedImmune is committed to collaborative partnerships with academia that drive the discovery and application of novel technology to enhance oncology research and development,” said Yong-Jun Liu, M.D., Ph.D, Head of Research, MedImmune.  “We’re delighted to embark on this partnership with the University of Cambridge and partner with Professor Brindle in this important area of oncology research.”  

Prof. Brindle and his group bring extensive expertise in advances in molecular imaging that produce more sensitive pictures of cells within patients’ tumours, particularly through the use of 13C hyperpolarised molecules. These advances will help MedImmune identify biomarkers to support future clinical trial design, such as optimising dosing schedules and identifying appropriate patient populations in clinical trials.  

“We are fortunate to partner with our local neighbor MedImmune, an organisation with an outstanding track record of innovation,” said Patrick Maxwell, Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge. “We look forward to combining our academic and their industrial expertise to combat cancer and to help further advance Cambridge as a center of biomedical research.”

MedImmune is developing a comprehensive oncology portfolio with an emphasis on two key areas in oncology development: antibody-drug conjugates, which combine the specificity of antibodies to deliver potent tumour killing molecules, and immune-mediated therapy for cancer (IMT-C), which aims to harness the power of the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. 



About MedImmune
MedImmune is the worldwide biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across key therapeutic areas, including respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; neuroscience; and infection and vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centers. For more information, please visit

About the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge’s mission is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. Cambridge’s reputation for excellence is known internationally and reflects the scholastic achievements of its academics and students, as well as the world-class original research carried out by its staff.  Some of the most significant scientific breakthroughs occurred at the University, including the splitting of the atom, invention of the jet engine and the discoveries of stem cells, plate tectonics, pulsars and the structure of DNA.  From Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking, the University has nurtured some of history’s greatest minds and has produced more Nobel Prize winners than any other UK institution with over 80 laureates.

About Professor Kevin Brindle
Kevin is Professor of Biomedical Magnetic Resonance in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and a senior group leader in the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. He became involved in magnetic resonance in 1978 when he started a D. Phil. on 1H NMR studies of cells with Prof. Iain Campbell FRS at the University of Oxford, where he was also an undergraduate. He joined the laboratory of Prof Sir George Radda FRS at Oxford in 1983 and in 1986 became a Royal Society University Research Fellow. In 1990 he moved to a Lectureship at the University of Manchester and in 1993 to a Lectureship in Cambridge, where he was elected to his professorship in 2005. Since 2006 he has been working on metabolic imaging with hyperpolarised 13C-labelled cell substrates to detect treatment response in tumours.

Tracy Rossin, MedImmune
+ 1 (301) 398-1468

Tim Holt, University of Cambridge
+44 (0) 1223 332300