AstraZeneca plc had a busy March, announcing five new public-private partnerships and the launch of its Open Innovation website to list additional partnership opportunities (see "Selected public-private partnerships for March 2014").
One of the public-private partnerships (PPPs) was a five-year alliance with the U.K.'s Medical Research Council (MRC) to give academic researchers access to more than two million of the pharma's molecules.
MRC will select and fund up to 15 screening projects per year. Topics for prospective projects are expected to cover a range of therapeutic areas and diseases and will not be restricted to AstraZeneca's areas of focus-cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, respiratory disorders, inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Project proposals will be sourced from U.K. scientists based at academic or noncommercial research institutions, including MRC. Initial projects may start as early as 2015.
The pharma will have the first option to license rights to any resulting drug discovery programs.
The partners also plan to form the AstraZeneca MRC U.K. Centre for Lead Discovery at the pharma's Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The center is expected to open in 2016.
Financial details were not disclosed.
AstraZeneca and MRC previously partnered in December 2011 to provide academic researchers with MRC grant funding and access to 22 of the pharma's discontinued compounds free