UK academic-SME collaborations bring new tech to drug discovery

Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute in the UK has announced the inception of six partnerships with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), focussed on the application of novel technologies to discovery projects led by Crick researchers.

The collaborations are supported by a Business Engagement Fund award from the Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.

The new partnerships encompass a diverse spectrum of research, with a common goal of delivering impactful outcomes from fundamental discovery.

Projects range from pioneering pharmacological treatments for congenital heart defects in Down syndrome to advancing research on human ovarian supporting cells and fertility.

Paul Mercer, Head of Collaboration at the Crick, said: “We are really excited to be able to develop these research partnerships with SMEs, diversifying the opportunity for development of Crick discoveries through the application of disruptive innovations.”

The SMEs partnering with the Crick

Perha Pharmaceuticals are collaborating with Victor Tybulewicz and the Immune Cell Biology Laboratory & Down Syndrome Laboratory, looking at DYRK1A inhibition as a pharmacological treatment for congenital heart defects in down syndrome.

Scalable Minds are collaborating with Andreas Schaefer and the Sensory Circuits and Neurotechnology Laboratory, researching multiscale structure-function characterisation of the neuronal circuits for olfaction in the mouse brain.

Broken String Biosciences are collaborating with Simon Boulton and the DSB Repair Metabolism Laboratory on CoDAC-seq: A low input method for simultaneous profiling of chromatin states and double-strand breaks, to leverage the technology to investigate the impact of genomic instability in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Hertility Health are collaborating with Robin Lovell-Badge and the Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics Laboratory, looking at human ovarian supporting cells and fertility.

Automata Technologies are collaborating with two science technology platforms, Advanced Sequencing and Genetic Modification Services, working on automated high sensitivity genetic assay for the screening of CRISPR modifications in early mouse embryos.

Mytos are collaborating with Sonia Gandhi, the Neurodegeneration Biology Laboratory, and the Crick’s Human Embryo and Stem Cell Unit, researching automated Generation of iPSC-derived human neurons to predict druggable pathways.

Laura Dickens, Associate Director – Industry Partnerships at MRC said: “Enhancing and broadening engagement with industry, particularly with SMEs, is a strategic priority for the MRC. We are therefore delighted to be piloting a business engagement fund award with the Crick focused on academic-SME collaborations. We look forward to seeing the development of the funded partnerships and the impact of the exciting science they can accomplish together.”

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

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