AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly are building on their existing immuno-oncology relationship to explore a series of novel combination therapies for treating solid tumours.

Under expanded agreement, the firms will assess safety and efficacy of a range of additional combinations across the their complementary portfolios. Lilly carry out the studies, but both companies will contribute resources.

AZ’ anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, durvalumab (MEDI4736), will be combined with Lilly molecules that target the immune system, including: the TGF-beta kinase inhibitor galunisertib; CXCR4 peptide antagonist; and an anti-CSF-1R monoclonal antibody, which will also be paired off with AZ’ anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody tremelimumab.

Also in the pipeline are plans to study other combinations targeting tumour drivers and resistance mechanisms, including Lilly’s abemaciclib with AZ’ Faslodex (fulvestrant); and both Cyramza (ramucirumab) and necitumumab with AZ’s AZD9291.

“Our respective pipelines afford multiple targeted options to create innovative combinations in immuno-oncology and beyond, that we hope will lead to future cancer treatment options,” said Richard Gaynor, who heads up Product Development and Medical Affairs at Lilly Oncology, commenting on the move.

The firms originally signed a Phase I clinical trial pact earlier this year to evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of combining durvalumab and ramucirumab as a treatment for patients with advanced solid tumours. Additional details of the expanded deal, including tumours to be studied and financial terms, were not disclosed.