PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- AgonOx today announced that it has entered into an exclusive global partnership with MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, to develop agonists using its OX40 platform. MedImmune will lead further preclinical and clinical studies of this tumor-specific T-cell immunity stimulator for the potential treatment of cancer. "We are very pleased to collaborate with MedImmune to advance our OX40 agonist programs," said AgonOx CEO Llew Keltner, M.D., Ph.D. "MedImmune has impressive capabilities in immuno-oncology, and we believe offers great potential for eventually bringing therapies utilizing the OX40 mechanism to trigger tumorspecific immune responses to patients."
"As the inventor of the OX40 agonist technology, it is gratifying to work with a strong partner to take this significant scientific and therapeutic discovery forward," said Andrew Weinberg, Ph.D., Managing Partner of AgonOx.
MedImmune will also support further OX40 research at Providence Cancer Center, where the foundational preclinical and clinical development of OX40 has been conducted. Additional details of the agreement will not be disclosed.
"Typically, the first line of defense against cancer in the body is the immune system," said Walter Urba, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Cancer Research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center, Portland, Oregon. "OX40 agonists have shown very intriguing preclinical and clinical behavior in specific activation of T-cells to attack tumors, and I am pleased to have MedImmune engaged in moving OX40 forward into additional human studies."
"Our Foundation has been pleased to support the early fundamental and clinical investigations through Drs. William Redmond and Brendan Curti of the Providence Portland Medical Center," states Howard Soule, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer, the Prostate Cancer Foundation. "We are pleased that a strong partner is now on board to help accelerate development and delivery of this investigational immunotherapy to patients."
OX40 is a protein transiently expressed on the surface of effector T-cells, but only after activation of the T-cells by immune-stimulating antigens, including tumor antigens. Binding OX40 with either anti-OX40 antibodies or OX40 ligand compositions has been shown to inhibit apoptosis in such T-cells, causing T-cell proliferation, immune attack on tumors, and sometimes very distinct tumor-specific therapeutic responses.
AgonOx is developing OX40 agonists and other immune system activators for use in cancer therapy. Research in the field of T-cell modulation conducted worldwide with OX40 and other agents has demonstrated that the use of T-cell modulating therapies in combination with specific anti-tumor therapies has the potential for yielding benefits for patients with cancer. AgonOx is focused on the development of immune system modulators in combination with other therapies, and is actively seeking combination therapies for in-licensing or partnering. Combination therapies of interest include cytotoxic agents, other immunologic modifiers, and tumor ablation techniques and devices. AgonOx is a closely held private company.
MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca PLC, has approximately 3,500 employees worldwide and is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. For more information, visit MedImmune's website at www.medimmune.com.
About Providence Cancer Center
The Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center is a world-class research facility located inside the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at Providence Health & Services in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1993 by Dr. Urba and a team of internationally recognized scientists, the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center today garners more than $2 million annually in federal grants and has a research staff of 60. The main area of investigation at the Center is immunotherapy, a specialized field of study focused on triggering the immune system to fight cancer.