Medimmune partners with the University of Sheffield to innovate cell factory technology

Partnership will create tools that could increase the yield and predictability of engineered proteins such as bispecific antibodies to treat a range of diseases

MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, has entered into a multi-project research collaboration with the University of Sheffield to generate breakthrough research in cell factory technology, the process by which living cells can be controlled and manipulated to make specific proteins with therapeutic benefits.

As part of the five-year collaboration, MedImmune will provide funding and in-kind contributions to support University of Sheffield post-doctoral and doctoral research projects to address key challenges in cell engineering. The aim is to produce tools to ensure that manufacturing success is ‘designed in’ from a much earlier stage than occurs with current screening-based strategies, to improve the development and production of biologic medicines.

The collaboration will focus on harnessing expertise from both MedImmune and the world-leading group in the University’s Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre to advance research specifically in mammalian cell factories.

Researchers from MedImmune and the university will exchange research materials, move between sites and state-of-the-art facilities and work closely as an integrated team. A Joint Steering Committee comprising equal members from both institutions will select the research projects and may choose to seek additional grant funding from other sources to generate further high quality, collaborative work.

‘We are pleased to enter into this strategic collaboration with the University of Sheffield to generate transformative cell factory tools that can potentially improve the way new therapies are delivered to patients,’ said Gail Wasserman, Senior Vice President, Biopharmaceutical Development, MedImmune. ‘This multi-year commitment provides MedImmune with a strong partner in cell factory research and may allow select complex proteins to be more rapidly and effectively manufactured to produce life-changing therapies.’

‘This partnership will enable us to significantly advance cell engineering technology able to speed the development of MedImmune's new biopharmaceutical medicines,’ says Professor David James, Director of the Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre at the University of Sheffield. ‘Together, we will design and create new cell factories that can overcome natural limitations in cellular manufacturing performance.’

This collaboration builds on previous research collaborations that MedImmune has recently entered into in biopharmaceutical development, including collaborations with The University of Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, the University of Manchester and the US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

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