New research paper shows that AstraZeneca has achieved greater than four-fold improvement in R&D productivity

AstraZenecaIn a research paper published today by Nature Reviews Drug Discovery(1), AstraZeneca's IMED Biotech Unit documents a more than four-fold improvement in R&D productivity following significant revision of its approach and adoption of a '5R framework' - right target, right patient, right tissue, right safety, right commercial potential.

The publication explains how adoption of the research unit's 5R framework has guided successful, efficient drug discovery and development whilst financial investment in R&D has remained unchanged. It shows that the research unit’s success rate in discovering new compounds, which then progress through the pipeline to completion of Phase III clinical trials, has increased from 4% in the period 2005-2010 to 19% in the period 2012-2016 based on the 5R framework.

The improvement positions R&D productivity above the pharmaceutical industry average of 6% for small molecules in the 2013-2015 timeframe(2). The transformation accompanied a strategic re-focusing on three main therapy areas: Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases and Respiratory.

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, IMED Biotech Unit and Business Development, said: "In a high-risk industry facing a well-documented decline in productivity2, I am proud to see the impact of our 5R strategy on our R&D success. There is still room for improvement, but we expect the focus on scientific rigour to further enhance our capability for translating science into innovative medicines for patients."

The IMED Biotech Unit’s 5R framework focuses on quality rather than quantity at all stages of drug discovery and development. Hence, the number of projects in discovery has decreased while their likelihood of success has increased. Other key factors include investment in state-of-the-art technologies, such as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) and next-generation sequencing, to produce better quality drug candidates for development, as well as a change in culture to focus on the science rather than the commercial opportunity.

Components of the increased R&D productivity include:

  • Early identification of patients most likely to benefit from treatment led to 62% of projects progressing to the next phase of development compared with 46% without prospective patient selection. Today, >90% of projects in the IMED Biotech Unit pipeline have a patient selection approach.
  • Progression to Phase III trials maintained at 2010 levels despite 50% lower number of candidate drugs in development.
  • Greater than four-fold reduction in preclinical project safety due to adoption of best practice predictive and translational science.
  • 70% of projects where proof-of-mechanism (POM) was demonstrated were associated with increased clinical success compared with 26% where POM was not demonstrated. In the 2005-2010 pipeline cohort fewer than 5 projects demonstrated POM compared with 29 in the 2012-2016 cohort. POM is a demonstration that a new compound reaches its target organ(s), interacts with its molecular target, and affects the biology of the target cells as intended.

The increased R&D productivity is mirrored by a substantial rise in the number of peer-reviewed research publications published by the IMED Biotech Unit’s scientists, especially in high-impact journals.

About IMED Biotech Unit

IMED Biotech Unit is one of two global research and early development arms of AstraZeneca, focusing on advancing small molecules, oligonucleotides and other emerging technologies and drug discovery platforms. The Biotech Unit conducts innovative discovery research and early-stage development from initial target selection to Phase II trial completion.

The second global research and early development arm is MedImmune which is responsible for global biologics R&D, including immunotherapies.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases and Respiratory. The Company also is selectively active in the areas of autoimmunity, neuroscience and infection. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

1. Morgan P, Brown DG, Lennard S, Anderton M, Barett JC, Eriksson U, Fidock M, Hamren B, Johnson A, March RE, Matcham J, Mettetal J, Nichols DJ, Platz S, Rees S, Snowden MA, Pangalos MN. (2011) Impact of a five-dimensional framework on R&D productivity at AstraZeneca. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (In Press).
2. Data sourced from CMR International’s 2016 Global R&D Performance Metrics Programme)

Most Popular Now

Aspirin green light for brain bleed stroke patient…

People who suffer a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain - known as brain haemorrhage - can take common medicines without raising their risk of another stroke, a major ...

Cancer cells are quick-change artists adapting to …

Until now, researchers have assumed that the growth of solid tumors originates from cancer stem cells characterized by specific surface markers, which develop in a fixed...

APRINOIA Therapeutics awarded grant from The Micha…

APRINOIA Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a pipeline of therapeutics and imaging diagnostics for neurodegenerative diseases, announces today that...

Benralizumab not effective reducing exacerbations …

More than 15.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is the third leading cause of death in this country, according t...

Pfizer announces top-line results from Phase 3 Tri…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) announced today that a Phase 3 study to assess the use of LYRICA® (pregabalin) as adjunctive therapy for epilepsy patients 5 to 65 years of age wi...

Novartis phase II data for new inhaled combination…

Novartis announced today that new phase II data for IND/GLY/MF (QVM149), an investigational, once-daily, fixed dose combination asthma treatment containing indacaterol ac...

Cannabis use among older adults rising rapidly

Cannabis use among older adults is growing faster than any other age group but many report barriers to getting medical marijuana, a lack of communication with their docto...

New data show Symbicort reduces attacks in mild as…

New data from Novel START, an open-label trial designed to reflect real-world practice, has demonstrated the effectiveness of Symbicort Turbuhaler (budesonide/formoterol)...

Merck pioneers new effort to see MS from the insid…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, joins the global multiple sclerosis (MS) community in recognition of World MS Day, an initiative created by the Multiple ...

Amgen joins with community oncology networks for n…

Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), along with leading community oncology networks, today announced the launch of Amgen Community Oncology Research Collaborators (ACORC), a new initiat...

Bayer receives U.S. FDA breakthrough therapy desig…

Bayer announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for copanlisib (Aliqopa™) for the treatment of adult patie...

Novartis Kisqali significantly extends life in wom…

Novartis announced statistically significant overall survival (OS) results for Kisqali in combination with endocrine therapy[1]. The Phase 3 MONALEESA-7 trial evaluated K...