AstraZeneca’s biologics R&D arm MedImmune is strengthening its links with the University of California, San Francisco, in a research collaboration focused on respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity.

The groups plan to explore the disease biology and core underlying mechanisms driving areas of unmet medical need across the target research area, such as the microbiome and regenerative medicine.

Their work will include extensive profiling of patient samples to help grow understanding of disease progression, identify novel biomarkers, and create “a quantative framework” to determine the effect of these biomarkers on clinical trial outcomes. 

“Ultimately, these collaborations will accelerate research to better understand diseases with limited treatment options, and will hopefully have significant impact,” said June Lee, director of Early Translational Research and the Catalyst Program at UCSF, who is overseeing the partnership.

The researchers will initially focus on seven new projects - idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), scleroderma, sarcoidosis, severe asthma and inflammatory bowel disease - over the next three years, but there is the potential for more to be added in future. 

The groups note that there are significant gaps in understanding of how these diseases progress, and also whether existing or experimental therapies are more effective in certain patient subtypes, which they are hoping to address through the collaboration.