September 11, 2015 I A new laboratory that will focus on the discovery and development of novel biologic cancer treatments and diagnostics has been opened this week in Cambridge by life sciences minister George Freeman MP.

The state-of-the-art CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory, located on Granta Park, is an innovative collaboration between Cancer Research UK, its commercial arm Cancer Research Technology, and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca.

In this important partnership, both Cancer Research UK and MedImmune scientists will work together in the laboratory and collaborate closely to share knowledge and expertise to discover and develop novel biologics to treat and diagnose cancer. The alliance will bring together MedImmune’s world-class human antibody phage display libraries and protein-engineering expertise with Cancer Research UK’s cancer biology expertise.

Cancer Research UK has provided the equipment and operational funding for the laboratory and will contribute a portfolio of novel drug targets through its extensive network of principal investigators. MedImmune will manage the drug discovery process for accepted projects.

Dr Maria Groves, head of the CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory and associate director at MedImmune, said: “This laboratory is truly a collaborative approach and its success will depend on three key factors: the application of our high-quality and diverse phage display libraries; designing a drug discovery process that will enable us to find specific potent antibodies with the right mechanism against the disease target and, finally, building a network of principal investigators who will have the opportunity to generate novel ideas for oncology therapeutics. We are driven to engineer the best antibodies and identify which components of cancer make the best targets for treatment. There’s a lot of ground to cover and we’re delighted to be working in partnership to advance this exciting field.”

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said: “This pioneering new laboratory in Cambridge highlights the vital role that Cancer Research UK and other charities play in funding exciting medical research which has the potential to help many patients. This ambitious project unites academia and industry to translate world-leading research from the laboratory into crucial new treatments for patients. The UK is already leading the way in cancer research, and collaborations such as this help to ensure that we convert that science into new medicines.”

Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s director of drug development, said: “Increasing investment in biotherapeutic treatment forms a key part of Cancer Research UK’s research strategy.

“We’re delighted to embark on this exciting new initiative, which will give leading Cancer Research UK scientists access to the latest antibody-engineering technologies and expertise. This will create opportunities to translate breakthroughs in our understanding of cancer biology into urgently needed new cancer treatments.”

For press enquiries please contact Emily Head in the Cancer Research UK\CRT press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, 07050 264 059.

Notes to editors

About biotherapeutics

Biological treatments or ‘biotherapeutics’ refer to any type of treatment that is produced by – or involves – living cells. That is, instead of drugs made from chemicals synthesised in the lab – these are therapies that are based on biological processes in cells, which we can engineer to help fight cancer.

For more information see:

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 commercialization of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across key therapeutic areas, including oncology; respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; neuroscience; and infection and vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centers. For more information, please visit

About MedImmune’s phage display technology

This technique exploits a biological characteristic of phage (a virus that infects bacteria) that allows the expression of foreign proteins on their surface (in our case, antibody fragments). Antibodies displayed this way retain their ability to interact normally with other molecules, and our controlled selection processes of large libraries can identify hundreds of different potential drug candidates to each target protein. Strategies and techniques have been developed to select and screen to enable the isolation of antibodies exhibiting certain traits, such as a desired specific biological function, high potency or cross-reactivity.

Further information can be found at:

About Cancer Research Technology

Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Further information about CRT can be found at and about Cancer Research UK at

About Cancer Research UK

   Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

   Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.

   Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.

   Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.

   Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years within the next 20 years.

   Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.

   Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

SOURCE: MedImmune