MRC Technology, UCB and the University of Leicester combine research excellence and expertise to evolve drug discovery

Posted by ap507 at Nov 08, 2016 11:19 AM |
Antibody-Assisted Structure-Based Drug Discovery consortium launched

Issued by MRC Technology on 8 November

A new research consortium aims to identify opportunities for drug discovery through the innovative use of antibodies in structure-based drug discovery and design. MRC Technology, UCB and the University of Leicester will use antibodies as powerful tools 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.

Dr 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.”

Neil Weir, Senior Vice President of Discovery Research 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.


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About MRC Technology

MRC Technology is an independent life science medical research charity committed to improving positive patient outcomes everywhere. As a champion for human health, MRC Technology partners with academic, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and charity organisations to move promising medical research forward into viable and accessible patient treatments. As a self-funded charity, income is reinvested to support translating research from the bench to patient. MRC Technology offers commercialisation and IP management skills and diagnostic and drug discovery expertise, specialising in small molecules and therapeutic antibodies.

About UCB

UCB, Brussels, Belgium ( is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. With more than 7 700 people in approximately 40 countries, the company generated revenue of € 3.9 billion in 2015. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB). Follow us on Twitter: @UCB_news

About the University of Leicester’s Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology (LISCB)

The Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology is built upon the widely recognised success of structural and chemical biology at Leicester. Through strengthening cross-college interactions as well as embracing new cutting edge technologies and novel chemical biology approaches the University will maximise its future success and impact. Establishing an Institute also allows this highly successful community to significantly expand their interactions across the University. Many strategically important research areas have benefited, including the CRUK Cancer Centre and the Precision Medicine Institute.

The Institute encompasses four main strands of research activity:

• Fundamental research into understanding the molecular assemblies that carry out the processes of life.

• Using structural biology to inform the discovery of novel drugs and therapeutics.

• Exploiting highly sensitive single molecule techniques to understand the complexities of dynamic biological processes

• Development of chemical probes, tools and libraries to modulate protein function

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