AstraZeneca has linked up with Taiwan’s National Research Programme for Biopharmaceuticals in a project which will give the latter's physicians and scientists access to the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker's compounds and biologics.

The pact involves proposals submitted from academic institutes in Taiwan, which will be funded by the NRPB, who will then explore new therapeutic uses for specific AstraZeneca compounds. Areas of "high interest" include cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases.

The partners note that "some medical compounds do not prove effective for the specific use for which they were developed". However, if additional research is conducted, "they may succeed for different therapeutic uses," while some drugs with "existing, proven benefits may also be found to have additional and sometimes unrelated uses after further research".

The plan, therefore, is to set up a framework that will enable researchers "to access a defined collection of AstraZeneca candidate drugs and their related data to enable such additional pre-clinical and clinical studies". The idea is to match AstraZeneca's "proven track record in global research and drug discovery" with NRPB’s and "academic thought-leaders’ insights", which may "accelerate the investigation of innovative hypotheses and technologies".

Don Frail, head of emerging innovations, science partnerships and alliances at AstraZeneca, said that by giving "best-in-class academic research institutions access to some of our valuable, high-quality compounds, we are opening doors to unexplored areas of pre-clinical and clinical research to help find the next generation of medical breakthroughs".

Michael Lai, director of NPRB, said the initiative "is another important step in the new era of medical discovery via open innovation and public-private collaboration". He added that "we expect other domestic and international biopharmaceutical companies will follow this example".