Cancer Research UK, CRT and Amgen to trial leukaemia immunotherapy drug in other cancers

2014-12-22 00:00:00

Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and Amgen Inc. have reached an agreement to take forward Amgen’s experimental immunotherapy treatment, AMG319, into its first trial involving patients with solid tumours, following a successful phase one trial of this drug in leukaemia and lymphoma patients.

The collaboration forms part of Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Development Partnership (CDP) scheme, a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK’s Centre For Drug Development (CDD) and CRT, to develop promising anti-cancer agents for which pharmaceutical companies do not have the resource to progress through early phase clinical trials.

AMG319 targets an important protein called P13 kinase delta to disable the ‘cloaking device’ that tumours use to evade detection by the immune system.

Studies in mice with solid tumours, part-funded by Cancer Research UK, have shown the ability of this class of drug to mount a response against cancer cells by independently stimulating the immune system but this is the first time it has been trialled in patients with solid tumours.*

Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development will manage and sponsor the study through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) network, with the aim of evaluating the safety and biological effect of AMG319 in patients with head and neck cancer.

Dr Jeremy Haigh, Chief Operating Officer for Amgen’s European R&D Organisation, said: “We fully recognise the value of working with Cancer Research UK in this project. Its distinctive expertise and resources will make a big contribution to our deeper understanding of this area of cancer treatment and wider understanding of AMG319. Cancer Research UK brings more than a century of experience in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. ”

Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Drug Development, said: “We’re pleased that this collaboration will allow patients with a wider variety of cancers to access this promising new immunotherapy treatment, which was originally developed for blood cancer patients. Treatments that train the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells are showing huge promise, so we look forward to seeing whether this drug could echo those results.”


For media enquiries please contact Ailsa Stevens in the Cancer Research UK\CRT press office on +44 203 469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on +44 7050 264 059.

Notes to editors

* Ali K, et al. (2014). nactivation of PI(3)K p110δ breaks regulatory T-cell-mediated immune tolerance to cancer, Nature, DOI: doi:10.1038/nature13444

About Cancer Research UK's Centre for Drug Development
Cancer Research UK has an impressive record of developing novel treatments for cancer. It currently has a portfolio of around 30 new anti-cancer agents in preclinical development, phase I or early phase II clinical trials. Since 1982, the Cancer Research UK Centre for Drug Development, formerly the Drug Development Office, has taken over 120 potential new anti-cancer agents into clinical trials in patients, five of which have made it to market and many others are still in development. These include temozolomide, a drug discovered by Cancer Research UK scientists, that is an effective treatment for brain cancer. Six other drugs are in late development phase III trials. This rate of success is comparable to that of any pharmaceutical company.

About Cancer Research Technology
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, the world's leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Further information about CRT can be found at

About Amgen
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.

Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be the world's largest independent biotechnology company, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.

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About the ECMC network
Conducting the majority of early-phase cancer clinical trials in the UK, experimental cancer medicine centres (ECMCs) provide infrastructure funding to enhance the quantity and quality of research in developing new medicines to help beat cancer. Each ECMC brings together lab-based experts in cancer biology with cancer doctors to speed up the flow of ideas from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside. Launched in 2007, the network of 18 ECMCs is jointly supported by Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health Research in England, and the Departments of Health of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who, together, have provided £35m from 2007-2012 and a further £35m from 2012 to 2017.  Find out more at

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive cancer. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that 3 in 4 people will survive cancer within the next 20 years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

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