British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has established a clinical trial collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company to assess the safety and preliminary efficacy of its investigational anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor MEDI4736 in combination with ramucirumab (Cyramza), Lilly’s VEGF Receptor 2 antiangiogenic cancer medicine.

The planned Phase I study will evaluate the combination as a treatment for patients with advanced solid tumours.

Developed by AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm MedImmune, the MEDI4736 is an investigational human monoclonal antibody directed against programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1).

Ramucirumab is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) Receptor 2 antagonist, which specifically binds and blocks activation of VEGF Receptor 2 by blocking the binding of VEGF receptor ligands VEGF-A, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D.

AstraZeneca global medicines development immuno-oncology head Robert Iannone said: "MEDI4736 is supported by a comprehensive development programme and is emerging as a cornerstone of our combination-focused immuno-oncology pipeline targeting multiple tumour types."

The trial will establish the safety and a recommended dosing regimen, with the potential to open expansion cohorts in various tumours of interest, for the combination of MEDI4736 and ramucirumab.

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Lilly will sponsor the trial while other details, including financial terms were not disclosed.

Lilly oncology product development and medical affairs senior vice-president Dr Richard Gaynor said: "The development of immune checkpoint inhibitors has been one of the more exciting research advancements in recent oncology history, but it is going to be even more interesting to see how these inhibitors can be combined with other proven targeted therapies."

Image: AstraZeneca’s R&D Site in Mölndal, Sweden. Photo: courtesy of Erik031.