MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, and WuXi AppTec, a research and development outsourcing company, have joined forces to develop and commercialise novel biologic MEDI5117 for the Chinese market.

MEDI5117, a fully human monoclonal antibody that depletes IL-6 and bears MedImmune’s proprietary half-life extending mutation (known as the YTE technology), is currently being studied in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

As part of the joint venture, MedImmune will offer technical and development capability, where as WuXi offer local regulatory, manufacturing, pre-clinical and clinical trial support.

MedImmune research and development executive vice president Bahija Jallal said the partnershiop would address the healthcare needs of Chinese patients.

"This strategic partnership will enable us to establish a leadership presence in developing novel biologics in China, complementing AstraZeneca’s investment in this important emerging market," Jallal said.

The two companies will have an equal ownership in the joint venture and currently share the commercialisation rights, however the option remains open for either company to acquire the full commercial rights. .

WuXi AppTec is entitled to gain revenue based on services provided to the joint venture while MedImmune will obtain various milestone payments as the programme proceeds.

WuXi AppTec chairman and CEO Dr Ge Li said; "WuXi is working to build long-term drug development partnerships with leading biopharmaceutical companies like MedImmune to help accelerate the development of novel medicines for the large and rapidly growing Chinese pharmaceutical market."

The Chinese government requires medicines used in clinical trials in the country to be manufactured locally, unless they have been approved in other markets.