Cambridge collaboration to boost precision medicine research

A new consortium has been launched to act as a ‘match-making’ service between pharma companies and R&D researchers to develop and study precision medicines.

The Therapeutics Consortium will team several large academic institutions based in the Cambridge biopharma community with pharma companies to deliver new drugs.

The consortium will connect academic and clinical researchers at the University of Cambridge, the Babraham Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute with pharma firms Astex Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

Professor Tony Kouzarides from the University of Cambridge will head the therapeutics consortium and the newly-formed Milner Institute in Cambridge.

He says: “The Milner Institute will act as a ‘match-making’ service through the Therapeutics Consortium, connecting the world-leading research potential of the University of Cambridge and partner institutions with the drug development expertise and resources of the pharmaceutical industry.

“We hope many more pharmaceutical companies will join our consortium and believe this form of partnership is a model for how academic institutions and industry can work together to deliver better medicines.”

Each industry partner within the consortium has committed funding to spend on collaborative projects and will collectively fund an executive manager to oversee the partnership.

Dr Rab Prinjha, head of GSK’s epigenetics discovery performance unit, says: “Late-stage attrition is too high – very few investigational medicines entering human trials eventually become an approved treatment.  As an industry, we must improve our success rate by understanding our molecules and targets better.

“This innovative institute which builds on GSK’s very successful collaboration with the [Cambridge] Gurdon Institute and close links with many groups across Cambridge, aims to increase our knowledge of basic biological mechanisms to help us bring the right investigational medicines into human trials and ultimately to patients.”

Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of innovative medicines and early development at AstraZeneca says: “We are pleased to be part of this exciting new consortium that brings together world-leading science and technology into a dedicated multi-disciplinary institute focused on translational research. The proximity to our new R&D centre and global headquarters in Cambridge will ensure our scientists can work closely with those at the Milner Institute.”

The Consortium will initially operate from the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, but will move into the Milner Institute in early 2018.

Yasmita Kumar

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