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  • MDC and Exeter to Refine Medicines Discovery through Industrial Process
    Prof. Neil Gow (Credit: University of Exeter)
  • Prof. Chris Molloy (Credit: MDC)

MDC and Exeter to Refine Medicines Discovery through Industrial Process

Nov 12 2020

The UK’s national Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and the University of Exeter have announced a strategic collaboration to accelerate medicines Research & Development (R&D), by translation of high quality research into new drug candidates or technologies through an industrial process of refinement and structured experimentation.

This combination of academic endeavour with industrial rigour is critical to produce assets that can be adopted by industry or funded by venture capital. Sharing skills and experience across these two disciplines is also key to how translation can be dramatically improved across UK institutions at this time of exceptional challenge. Importantly, this partnership also produces a post-COVID blueprint for academic-Catapult collaboration to drive UK productivity. Activities of focus include;

Identifying research that can be supported at its earliest stages 

Developing identified innovation into an independently validated proposition, allowing investors and pharmaceutical partners to join projects with confidence

Embedding industry standard drug discovery thinking and knowledge at the point of ideation, creating better medicines of the future 

Identifying and developing new mechanisms to sustain the development of these medicines, through novel funding mechanisms and partnerships

“This exciting partnership offers much for both parties.  It will enable our researchers to take their novel ideas beyond the stage where academic inspiration transitions into translational applications. For Medicines Discovery Catapult, we hope this will deepen the well of creative ideas that their expertise can support,” said Prof. Neil Gow FRS, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) of the University of Exeter.

“I look forward to seeing both partners achieve their goals – making a difference and enabling us to translate research well beyond the lab, into real-world impact. This pioneering partnership will create a blueprint for accelerating innovation, enabling our research to have meaningful benefits on people’s health and wellbeing.”

Professor Chris Molloy, Chief Executive Officer at Medicines Discovery Catapult added: “This partnership is the realisation of a faster route for innovative research to reach the clinic. It is also a paradigm for how universities and industrial translators can each do what they are best at and maximise national impact - now and into the future.

“This shared-skills, co-operative approach tackles a deep structural issue head on and ensures the best ideas see the light of day at pace and scale for the benefit of patients and the UK economy. Access to our skills, technology and networks at a critical stage of medicines discovery means we and the University of Exeter can develop future medicines as well as future wealth creating academic translators.”

Collaboration between the two organisations was initiated and facilitated by Dr. Jehangir Cama, David Whitehouse and Prof. Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, members of the Wellcome Trust funded ‘Translational Research Exchange @ Exeter’ (TREE).

Joint events were hosted pre-COVID-19 at Exeter’s flagship Living Systems Institute to identify early stage innovation, which subsequently initialised several projects involving University of Exeter academic staff, pre-spin out companies and industry specialists at MDC to create independently validated propositions and thus accelerate their development to clinic. The formal agreement will now strengthen and develop this collaboration.

Further information online


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