AstraZeneca's MedImmune and NIST Join Forces to Develop Biologics

Feb. 23, 2015

MedImmune, the global biologics research and development division of AstraZeneca, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) signed a five-year agreement to support research that will help advance drug discovery and manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.

MedImmune is providing first-year funding for seven NIST postdoctoral scientists, each working on a joint MedImmune/NIST research project. These projects will seek to better understand mechanisms of action, structures and other biological and chemical principles useful in drug development, engineering and formulation, and help create measurement tools to facilitate that knowledge, according to a press release.

“MedImmune is committed to partnering with premier institutions that can translate strong science into patient benefit,” said Bahija Jallal, executive vice president, MedImmune. “NIST offers a unique expertise that can facilitate more precise, timely and innovative approaches to drug discovery, and being conveniently located with us in Gaithersburg, further supports the burgeoning life sciences community in Maryland.”

“This partnership brings together MedImmune’s deep industry understanding and NIST’s measurement expertise to expand our knowledge of biopharmaceuticals — a growing field with huge economic and health impacts,” said Willie May, acting under secretary of commerce for standards and technology and acting NIST director.

Among the initial MedImmune/NIST collaborations are:

Developing a new, sensitive form of Raman spectroscopy to rapidly determine that proteins used in biopharmaceuticals are properly folded and able to interact with other molecules as intended;

Helping researchers identify potential targets for therapeutic agents by establishing a library of the mass spectra, the “fingerprints” of molecules, for proteins on the surface of cells that have roles in specific diseases;

Developing methods to produce three-dimensional structural maps with resolution at the atomic level for the largest class of proteins used for medical therapies, called monoclonal antibodies, and;

Using neutron beams to understand at the molecular level why some proteins used in biopharmaceuticals unfold during their manufacture. Read the full release