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Medicines Discovery Catapult to collaborate with LifeArc on new biomarkers

Will also advance proteomics research

The UK’s Medicines Discovery Catapult has teamed up with LifeArc in a bid to develop novel biomarkers and optimise the medical charity's drug development.

Formerly know as Medical Research Council Technology, LifeArc says it has a growing portfolio of novel candidates across priority disease areas, and wanted to find a partner to help it validate and select the best candidates for development using biomarkers.

The UK government funded Medicines Discovery Catapult exists to help foster next generation technology in biopharma R&D, and has expertise in the discovery and validation of new biomarker approaches.

While biomarkers are now commonly used in developing new oncology therapies, the approach isn’t as widely used in other disease areas.

The partnership will use the expertise of both organisations to progress candidate molecules towards clinical evaluation with an optimised biomarker strategy. LifeArc will fund a select number of full-time employees, who will be embedded within the Catapult to provide strategic biomarker discovery and development.

Biomarkers play a fundamental role in translating drugs from a pre-clinical to clinical setting, where they help define dosage, patient selection and treatment decisions. The partners want to mirror their extensive use in oncology to bring similar improvements in clinical efficacy, safety and patient segmentation in other disease areas.

Dr Peter Simpson, chief scientific officer of Medicines Discovery Catapult, said:  “LifeArc is renowned as an innovator in drug discovery, and this partnership is further endorsement of Medicine Discovery Catapult’s position as a leader in the creation of biomarker strategies, and the application of technology innovation in drug discovery.”

Dr Peter Simpson

Dr Peter Simpson

The new posts created at Catapult will be funded for an initial three-year period, and the researchers will use technology including PET imaging, near infra-red imaging, Nanostring, molecular pathology, imaging informatics, MALDI, and digital spatial profiling.

In addition, the charity will fund a two-year industrial post-doctoral research position based in Medicines Discovery Catapult’s national laboratory at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

This new post-doc will centre around proteomics, the identification of proteins present in a biological sample, and drug discovery, aiming to improve the techniques available to both organisations.

Catherine Kettleborough, associate director of LifeArc’s Centre for Therapeutics Discovery, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to join forces with the Medicines Discovery Catapult to support and accelerate the translation of promising research into new health interventions. Additionally, the post-doctoral fellowship position will facilitate the development of innovative approaches that will benefit both organisations and contribute to training the drug discoverers of tomorrow.”

The new alliance builds on the Catapult's work to ensure the UK remains a leader in drug discovery. Last week it was awarded funding from UK government organisation Innovate UK to work with Chief.AI Medicines. This new partnership will see AI made available to all drug discovery researchers on a more cost-effective 'pay as you go' basis, opening up the technology to more research teams.

8th May 2019

From: Research

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