UPDATED: AstraZeneca, University of Manchester create new center for advanced drug delivery

AstraZeneca ($AZN) is teaming up with the University of Manchester on drug delivery, in the latest example of the growing research collaboration between Big Pharma and academia.

The Stopford Building houses the Pharmacy School where the new center will be based.--Courtesy of the University of Manchester

The university's North West Centre for Advanced Drug Delivery will study delivery topics in cancer and other diseases of interest to AstraZeneca. It will feature an on-site manufacturing facility for advanced drug delivery technologies.

The center will become operational at the beginning of February, the University of Manchester told FierceDrugDelivery in an email. 

The university will benefit from its proximity to AstraZeneca's nearby Macclesfield, England manufacturing facility. It is the company's second largest of such facilities. The company says the site is unique because it performs "a complex aseptic technique" to ensure the sterility of cancer drug Zoladex.

"The close proximity between our two facilities and the great pool of talent in both organizations provides considerable potential for the creation of groundbreaking innovations in advanced drug delivery, which we hope will make a meaningful difference to the health of patients suffering from serious diseases," said Paul Stott, AstraZeneca's vice president of product development, in a statement.

In addition, a modeling and simulation center is planned, consisting of scientists from AstraZeneca's quantitative clinical pharmacology group and Manchester academics. And AstraZeneca staff will be involved in the teaching of courses at Manchester's Pharmacy School, the university says, adding that students and staff will visit the Big Pharma.

"We look forward to expanding our existing research in drug delivery enabling us to consolidate further our productive relationship with AZ, for which the common aim is to improve patient care and health outcomes in areas of unmet need," said Professor Kay Marshall, the head of Manchester's Pharmacy School, in a statement.

The university believes the collaboration will help its pharmacy students enter the competitive job market. The program will be led by University of Manchester professor Nicola Tirelli and AstraZeneca principal scientist of product design and innovation, Marcel de Matas.

De Matas has been named an honorary research fellow at the Pharmacy School, and has previously led collaborations with Chinese businesses and universities, according to his LinkedIn profile.

This is not the first collaboration between AstraZeneca and the University of Manchester. In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), AstraZeneca and the university agreed to invest £5 million apeice (nearly $8 million at the current exchange rate) to create the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research.

- read the news release from the University of Manchester
- here's more information about AstraZeneca's Macclesfield manufacturing facility

Special Report: The top drug delivery partnerships of 2013 - Bind and AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Amgen

Editor's Note: The date by which the center will become operational was added to the story.