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MRC Technology, UCB and the University of Leicester collaborate to form antibody-assisted structure-based drug discovery consortium

Consortium combines research excellence and expertise to guide the discovery and design of novel small molecule therapeutics
London, UK, Brussels, Belgium and Leicester, UK, 08 November 2016: MRC Technology, UCB and the University of Leicester have formed a new research consortium, with the aim of identifying novel opportunities for drug discovery through the innovative use of antibodies in structure-based drug discovery and design.
The consortium will use antibodies to identify and characterise novel regulatory or allosteric sites on therapeutic target proteins, to stabilise functionally important protein conformational states, and to characterise key structural features of complexes formed with activity modulating antibodies. The unique knowledge gained by this approach will be exploited to guide the discovery and design of novel small molecule therapeutics, addressing unmet clinical needs and delivering significant benefits for patients.
Antibody-assisted drug discovery is a relatively new field which builds on world-leading complementary research expertise in the UK, covering all aspects of monoclonal antibody production and structural biology. Combining expertise could lead to a step change in knowledge-based drug discovery and highlights the benefits of a public-private sector partnership approach to future drug discovery.
Justin Bryans, Director, Drug Discovery at MRC Technology, said: “As a charity, it is part of MRC Technology’s strategy to pursue riskier technologies if it can expedite new treatments to patients. Our capabilities in both antibody and small molecule drug discovery leave us ideally placed to help drive this new technology towards the clinic. Collaborating with UCB and the University of Leicester will undoubtedly help us achieve our ambition in this field.”
Alistair Henry, Senior Director of Biological Spectroscopy at UCB, said: “UCB sees partnerships as fundamental to our success as the complexities of treating severe diseases are beyond the expertise and resource of a single organisation. Collaborating with MRC Technology and the University of Leicester to combine our expertise to open up new treatment opportunities through Antibody-Assisted Structure-Based Drug Discovery is a very exciting new venture.”
Mark Carr, Professor of Biochemistry, Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology said: “The new consortium builds on very successful existing drug discovery collaborations between structural biology groups at the University and both MRC Technology and UCB. This exciting new venture brings together a world-leading combination of translational research scientists and by combining the expertise and knowledge available in the public and private sectors provides a tremendous opportunity to pioneer antibody-assisted drug discovery. The potential economic and healthcare benefits for the UK are substantial.”
The Antibody-Assisted Structure-Based Drug Discovery consortium is recruiting four research scientists to be based in Professor Carr’s research group at the Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology. The consortium’s projects will be supported by scientists at MRC Technology and UCB’s research laboratories and will have access to their antibody production facilities.