MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm, has hooked up with Johns Hopkins University in a five-year, $6.5 million research pact covering a broad range of diseases.

Each will sink funding, personnel and materials into the alliance, which has the umbrella aim of addressing important scientific questions and exchanging knowledge through joint research efforts, training programs and access to specialised knowledge, facilities and equipment. 

The joint research projects are to be built around MedImmune’s therapeutic areas of interest, including cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; infectious disease and neuroscience, the partners said.

Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, MedImmune, has high hopes for the deal, noting that it could "create a new standard on how academia and industry can work together". 

The partnership, she added, will "leverage each organisation’s strengths, advance research in critical therapeutic areas and strengthen Maryland’s presence as a growing hub in the bioscience industry”.

From the other side, the relationship will provide the university scientists and students "with new opportunities to play a leading role in advancing science and improving global health outcomes," added Ronald Daniels, Johns Hopkins president.

Some of the key projects include: exploring the role of immune system cells in tumour growth to identify new cancer drug targets; researching the damaging mechanisms underlying rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and validating potential therapeutic targets involved in the development or progression of the disease; assessing monoclonal antibody combinations to aid in clinical candidate selections that more effectively prevent recurrent infections in high risk patients; and finding innovative ways to manufacture complex next generation biologic drugs.