Published On: Tue, Sep 24th, 2013

British AstraZeneca and Israeli Hadasit Launch Drug Discovery Alliance


AstraZeneca plc (LSE; NYSE: AZN) and Hadasit, the commercial arm and technology transfer company of Israel’s Hadassah University Hospitals, announced today they will identify, evaluate, and jointly develop new treatments for several diseases, primarily focused on cancer, respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

The three dovetail with AstraZeneca’s core therapy areas of oncology; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; and respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmunity diseases. CEO Pascal Soriot halved AstraZeneca’s core therapy areas to three in March, as part of a company restructuring that included 3, 900 additional job cuts, and is designed to reverse years of clinical setbacks.

The British AstraZeneca is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, specializing in addition in cardiology and autoimmune diseases. The company posted a profit of $6.3 billion on $27.9 billion revenue in 2012, after several years  in which most of the company’s major clinical trials failed, is pushing it to improve its products pipeline now.

“AstraZeneca now has a more intense focus on early-stage academic and biotech alliances. We look forward to collaborating with Hadasit on scientific research and pharmaceutical development here in Israel, ” David Goren, president of AstraZeneca Israel, said in a statement. “I am convinced this agreement has the potential to strengthen our pipeline of medicines in our core therapy areas.”

Hadasit and Hadassah scientists will work with teams from AstraZeneca’s innovative medicines and early development organization for an initial period of three years to investigate potential treatments, both biologics and small molecule compounds. The companies said their collaboration is designed to wed Hadasit technologies and research capabilities originating from Hadassah with AstraZeneca’s global research and drug discovery knowhow.

The value of the collaboration and other financial details were undisclosed.

Hadasit’s portfolio includes about 170 active patent families tied to medical and commercial breakthroughs, including the cancer treatment liposomaldoxorubicin, developed with Hebrew University.

AstraZeneca was one of the bidders in the tender to establish a biotech incubator in Israel, but lost to a consortium of OrbiMed Advisors LLC, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (TSE: 4502).
As the current agreement with Hadasit indicates AstraZeneca has not given up on seeking early-stage drugs in Israel .

Hadassah Medical Center, which provides Hadasit with the technologies it commercializes, has also been in a severe financial crisis since the 2008 global financial crisis, and Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scandal, which caused the hospital’s financial sources, mostly donations, to dry up. The possibility of additional external commercial support is very important for Hadasit. It already has cooperation agreements with several pharmaceutical companies, not all of which have been made public.




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