MIPS 25th Anniversary Profile: MedImmune–characterization of Synagis®

Project Manager:  Dr. John Hope;  Principal Investigator:  Dr. Bradford C. Braden, Bowie State
Location:  Gaithersburg, Maryland – Montgomery County;  Project Start Date:  2/1/2000

Business Description
Gaithersburg-based MedImmune is the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca PLC, with approximately 3,500 employees worldwide.

MedImmune’s Synagis® product is the first monoclonal antibody approved for the prevention of an infectious disease, as well as the first such drug to be safely used in children.

Synagis® prevents a serious lower respiratory tract disease caused by the respiratory synctial virus (RSV), prominent in the Northern Hemisphere during the winter months. RSV is the most common respiratory infection for infants and children. Approximately 50 percent of all infants are infected with RSV during their first year of life; nearly all children have been infected at least once by the time they reach their second birthday.

Challenge
MedImmune wanted to characterize the humanized antibody Synagis® to identify potential changes in structure that occurred at the antigen binding site. This could possibly lead to a new antibody with improved viral neutralizing characteristics.

MIPS Role
Bowie State researchers characterized the three dimensional structure and physiochemical properties of Synagis®.

Results
Synagis® has therapeutic advantages over existing treatments, and has become a breakthrough product with over $1B in sales per year and more than $11B in sales historically. MedImmune was acquired by AstraZeneca in June, 2007, for $15.6B.  They have 1,925 employees in Maryland.

Interesting Fact
MIPS has jointly funded six different research projects with MedImmune, including three directly related to Synagis®, since 1996.

MIPS-Related Quote
MIPS “helped in [the] structural testing of Synagis lots,” said MedImmune scientist Dr. John Hope in a post-project report. “The process for which the MIPS grant assisted in development of is still being used at MedImmune for testing Synagis® and related glycoproteins.”

Leading up to (and beyond) the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) 25th Anniversary Gala, each weekday we will briefly profile one (or more) of the 500+ companies that have utilized MIPS funding to bring innovations to market and create jobs in Maryland. These profiles will be collected in a commemorative book, released at the celebration on November 7.

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