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AstraZeneca gives UK researchers access to compounds

Pharma firm grants free access to 22 compounds as part of agreement with UK's Medical Research Council

AstraZeneca will allow UK medical researchers to have free access to 22 of its compounds as part of a deal with the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Academics based in the country will now be able to send research proposals for using the compounds to investigate new treatment opportunities and the MRC, a publicly funded body that supports medical research, will judge these.

The MRC will then select the best scientific proposals and award up to £10 million in total to fund research across a range of human diseases.

Projects that are deemed to be feasible must not duplicate existing studies nor directly contribute to any ongoing programmes from AstraZeneca. The company may, however, choose to work with the researchers directly if any overlap is identified.

The pharma company said that the rights to intellectual property generated using the compounds will vary but will be 'equitable and similar' to those currently used in academically-led research.

AstraZeneca will retain rights to the chemical composition of the compounds and any new research findings will be owned by the academic institution.

The MRC's chief executive Sir John Savill said this was an “exciting new approach” to speeding up the development of new treatments.

He said: “The initiative marks a new era in medical discovery, open innovation and public-private collaboration.”

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said the deal was a boon for scientific research in the UK.

He said: “It will give our world-leading research base new insights into disease and encourage the development of groundbreaking new treatments. This will keep the UK at the very forefront of biomedical research and drive growth and innovation in our life sciences industry.”

The deal comes the same day as UK Prime Minsiter David Cameron is expected to announce a £181m overhaul of the life sciences industry in the UK.

This is due to put greater development support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic institutions, at the top of the agenda, with the ultimate intention of accelerating the uptake of new medicines in the UK's NHS and strengthening ties between the NHS and industry.

5th December 2011

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