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AstraZeneca Partners With the Wallenberg Centre For Protein Research To Explore Secretome

AstraZeneca Partners With the Wallenberg Centre For Protein Research To Explore Secretome

By: Sarah Massey, M.Sc.

Posted on: in News | Biotech News

AstraZeneca announced Friday that its global biologics R&D division, MedImmune, would be collaborating on a three-year project with the new Wallenberg Centre for Protein Research (WCPR). The partnership aims to explore the newest ‘omics’ research area, known as the secretome – the study of all the proteins released by, or embedded in the cell membrane.

By studying the proteins that are exposed to the outside of the cell, the researchers hope to identify new drug targets for various diseases, as well as develop new biologics technologies. Along with the funding provided by AstraZeneca, the WCPR is set to receive financial and technical assistance with the project from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Uppsala University and Chalmers University of Technology.

AstraZeneca along with MedImmune have identified two areas of focus for the project. Using AstraZeneca’s proprietary protein-based assays, the company’s Innovative Medicines unit (iMED) will first focus on screening the entire secretome library to identify targets for drug development for a range of as-yet unannounced diseases.

The second area of focus is the development of so-called ‘cell factories’ which would improve upon the current industry standards for the large-scale synthesis of biopharmaceutical proteins. “We are delighted to partner with AstraZeneca and MedImmune as it will allow us to translate the scientific findings we have made when determining the map of proteins across the body into meaningful treatments for people with a wide range of diseases,” said Professor Mathias Uhlén, a professor of microbiology at KTH and author on the world’s first paper detailing the human proteome along with the secretome.

The WCPR is a newly-established research center which will aim to characterize the human proteome in the context of understanding and developing improved biopharmaceutical production systems. “We’re tremendously excited to be part of this innovative collaboration as we explore what science can do to advance medical research. Harnessing the power of the secretome in this unprecedented way will help us to identify new biomarkers, drug targets and ultimately develop next-generation biological treatments,” said AstraZeneca CEO, Pascal Soriot.

As the proteins including in the secretome make up as much as one third of all proteins found in the body, further understanding of these cellular components could lead to previously-untapped targets for disease treatment. Proteins included in the secretome are also involved in a number of integral body processes including glucose balance, cardia regeneration, and cancer proliferation and metastasis, making secretome research important to the study of many disease processes.

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