The UK BioIndustry Association ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign highlights the impact that the UK bioscience industry makes on delivering ground-breaking treatments to patients. The state-of-the-art Cancer Research UK – MedImmune Alliance Laboratory (CMAL) is an innovative collaboration between charity Cancer Research UK and BIA member MedImmune, established to accelerate the translation of research into potential new drugs. Find out more below.

Cancer starts when cells change abnormally. Gene changes cause a cell or cells to begin to grow and multiply too much, which can lead to the formation of a tumour. One in two people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime. There are over 200 different types of cancer and many different approaches to treatment.

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In September 2015, a new laboratory was opened in Cambridge to focus on the discovery and development of novel biologic cancer treatments and diagnostics. The state-of-the-art Cancer Research UK- MedImmune Alliance Laboratory (CMAL) is an innovative collaboration between charity Cancer Research UK and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca.

In this important partnership, scientists from both organisations work together in the laboratory and collaborate closely to share knowledge and expertise to accelerate the discovery and development of novel biologics to treat and diagnose cancer. The CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory is focussing on rare and hard to treat cancers, including cervical, pancreatic and leukaemia.

cmal-graphicThe alliance brings together Cancer Research UK’s cancer biology expertise with MedImmune’s world-class human antibody drug discovery expertise. Cancer Research UK provided set up and operational funding for the laboratory as well as contributing a portfolio of novel drug targets together with a team of scientists. MedImmune oversees the laboratory activities and provides access to its human antibody phage display libraries and established antibody engineering technologies.

Phage display allows researchers to quickly scan through millions upon millions of randomly generated antibodies (a special type of protein normally produced by our immune cells) to find ones that recognise important molecules involved in cancer or other diseases. First developed in the 1980s by Cambridge scientists, phage display is an immensely powerful research tool that has already led to the discovery of a ground breaking treatment for auto-immune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease called adalimumab.

The CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory will accelerate the translation of research into potential new drugs. Opened in 2015, the lab is on track to have its first candidate ready for clinical trials in 2019.

Watch our video and hear more about the Alliance Lab and from Tony Selman, patient and Cancer Research UK ambassador.

You can also download our accompanying infographic here.