MedImmune to create stand-alone company for early-stage inflammation and autoimmunity biologics

LONDON, UK I February 28, 2018 I AstraZeneca today announced that its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, is spinning out six molecules from its early-stage inflammation and autoimmunity programmes into an independent biotech company, Viela Bio. The new company will focus on developing medicines for severe autoimmune diseases by targeting the underlying causes of each disease.   

MedImmune will contribute three clinical and three pre-clinical potential new medicines. This includes inebilizumab, currently in Phase II trial development for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica, a rare condition that affects the optic nerve and spinal cord in approximately five in 100,000 people. It was granted Orphan Drug Designation by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2016 and by the European Medicines Agency in 2017.

Bing Yao, currently Head of MedImmune’s Respiratory, Inflammation & Autoimmunity (RIA) Innovative Medicines unit, has been named as Chief Executive Officer at Viela Bio. Jorn Drappa, currently Vice President of RIA Clinical Development at MedImmune, has been appointed Head of Research & Development and Chief Medical Officer at Viela Bio.

Bahija Jallal, President of MedImmune and Executive Vice President of AstraZeneca,

said: “Our goal is always to find a way for the science to advance. By establishing Viela Bio, we are creating an optimal environment for the continued development of our promising early-stage biologics portfolio in inflammation and autoimmunity. This has the potential to bring the most benefit to patients and will allow us to maintain focus on our three main therapy areas.”

Bing Yao, Chief Executive Officer, Viela Bio, said: “Viela Bio shows great potential, launching with a very robust pipeline with multiple novel molecules in inflammation and autoimmunity. This is combined with a strong, expanding team that has in-depth scientific and clinical development expertise and the ability to bring important, innovative medicines to patients.”

Viela Bio will be based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It will be funded with up to $250 million from a consortium of investors led by Boyu Capital, 6 Dimensions Capital, and Hillhouse Capital. AstraZeneca will remain the largest minority shareholder of Viela Bio.

This transaction does not include anifrolumab, in late-stage Phase III development by AstraZeneca for the treatment of lupus, a chronic, severe autoimmune disease.


Potential new medicines in the clinic to be included in the new company:

Molecule Mode of action First indication Phase of development
inebilizumab anti-CD19 mAb neuromyelitis optica Phase II
MEDI4920 anti-CD40L-Tn3 fusion protein primary Sjögren’s syndrome Phase I
MEDI7734 anti-ILT7 mAb myositis Phase I

About MedImmune

MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across Oncology; Respiratory, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases; and Infection and Vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centres, with additional sites in Cambridge, UK, and Mountain View, CA. For more information, please visit

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases and Respiratory. The Company also is selectively active in the areas of autoimmunity, neuroscience and infection. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

SOURCE: AstraZeneca

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