AstraZeneca is teaming up again with long-time Crestor partner Shionogi and licensing a preclinical programme from the Japanese drugmaker for the potential treatment of acute coronary syndrome.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit will acquire exclusive rights to Shionogi’s cardiovascular biologic programme which it says acts on a biological mechanism that plays a physiological role in the metabolism of high-density lipoprotein. MedImmune notes that HDL is responsible for the transport of cholesterol out of blood vessels and plaques and raising levels can decrease “the persistent residual risk in cardiovascular disease”.

AstraZeneca will be responsible for all future R&D and manufacturing, plus any future commercialisation, while Shionogi retains an option to co-market in Japan. Financial details have not been disclosed.

The companies have worked together since 1998 when AstraZeneca licensed Crestor (rosuvastatin) from Shionogi, with the cholesterol drug becoming one of the biggest-sellers in recent times. In addition to the new licensed programme, MedImmune is also currently progressing a recombinant human lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) enzyme called MEDI6012, in Phase I for ACS.

As for Shionogi, the firm announced earlier this year it would be concentrating R&D efforts on infectious diseases and pain/neurology. Kohji Hanasaki, head of pharma research, said “we think that this biologic programme gets the best chance of success” by partnering with AstraZeneca.