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AstraZeneca and Lilly to test new cancer drug combination

LONDON, May 29 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly are to combine two of their cancer drugs in a new clinical trial against solid tumours in the latest sign that such cocktails may be the way forward in fighting the disease.

AstraZeneca's experimental anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy drug MEDI4736 will be tested alongside Lilly's approved medicine Cyramza, or ramucirumab, the two companies said on Friday.

The early-stage Phase I trial will be run by Lilly but additional details of the collaboration, including tumour types to be studied and financial terms, were not disclosed.

MEDI4736 belongs to a hot new class of treatments designed to boost the immune system in the battle against cancer, while Cyramza is part of an older type of so-called antiangiogenic medicines that starve tumours of blood supply.

Roche, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs, is already testing a similar combination of its anti-PD-L1 drug MPDL3280A and its antiangiogenic medicine Avastin.

For AstraZeneca, the tie-up with Lilly is a further step in the company's declared aim of bringing in external partners to help make the most of its experimental cancer drugs. It follows a deal last month with Celgene.

The potential of drugs that unleash the body's immune system to fight cancer will be the main focus of the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology starting later on Friday in Chicago.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Jane Merriman)