Catapult and LifeArc tackle biomarkers for drug discovery

The two UK bodies will identify and develop novel biomarkers that detect efficacy and safety of novel drug molecules for human trials

Medicines Discovery Catapult and LifeArc, forces driving UK innovation in drug discovery, have made a strategic partnership.

The focus of the partnership will be the identification and development of novel biomarkers that detect efficacy and safety of novel drug molecules, which can be used in human trials.

LifeArc has a growing portfolio of therapeutic candidates across priority disease areas where there is high patient need. Medicines Discovery Catapult has established platforms and expertise in the discovery and validation of new biomarker approaches.

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.

The new posts, funded initially for a three-year period, will combine LifeArc’s project expertise with Medicines Discovery Catapult’s translational drug development know-how and suite of state-of-the-art biomarker technologies. This includes; PET imaging, near infra-red imaging, Nanostring, molecular pathology, imaging informatics, MALDI, and digital spatial profiling.

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

The new position will establish innovative Mass Spectrometry proteomics workflows relevant to drug discovery and improve the techniques and know-how available to both Medicines Discovery Catapult and LifeArc.

Ultimately, this collaboration will establish new proteomics approaches that can be applied to benefit the wider drug discovery community.

Dr Peter Simpson, CSO of Medicines Discovery Catapult, said: “This landmark collaboration will bring together the expertise of two world-class, UK-based, leaders in collaborative approaches to drug discovery for the first time.”

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.”

This is not the only partnership LifeArc has made in recent months. In January the company teamed up with Metrion on a neurological pathogenesis gene. The two companies had also worked together on a small molecule drug discovery programme.

Prior to that LifeArc, The Centre for Drug Research and Development, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory collaborated to identify antibacterial drug targets.

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