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£39m Biomedical Catalyst funding will speed-up development of healthcare technologies

05 November 2012

 

Grants from the government-backed Biomedical Catalyst totalling £39 million have been awarded to 32 projects led by small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and universities to accelerate the development of innovative solutions to healthcare challenges.

 

These are the first substantial awards made from the £180 million Biomedical Catalyst, a programme of public funding jointly managed by the Technology Strategy Board and the Medical Research Council. The Biomedical Catalyst – announced by the Prime Minister David Cameron in December last year – is designed to deliver effective support for the best life science opportunities arising in the UK, enabling businesses and academics to speed-up the translation of scientific ideas into commercial propositions, for the greater benefit of patients.

 

A digital healthcare system that will provide early diagnosis of dementia, a universal flu vaccine that could protect against all known strains of the illness and a targeted therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer are just three of the planned innovations that will be evaluated, developed or demonstrated using the funding provided by the Biomedical Catalyst.

 

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said:

“Britain is in a global race today and this £39 million investment will help keep us at the very forefront of life sciences by supporting some of our most innovative SMEs and universities. It will help take excellent ideas through to market, driving growth and helping patients benefit from the very latest technologies and treatments.”

 

The Biomedical Catalyst’s initial funding awards, announced in August, injected nearly £10 million into 14 universities and 18 SMEs, supporting them on their vital first steps in exploring the market potential of their scientific ideas.

 

Through these new funding awards, grants totalling £29.6 million have been agreed for 22 projects led by SMEs while a further £9.5 million has been awarded to ten projects led by academic institutions. They will undertake evaluations of the technical feasibility of their ideas, establish proof of concept or demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of their innovative technologies.

 

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added:

“We have been hugely impressed by the number and quality of applications, which just goes to show the strength, vitality and innovative spirit of the UK’s world-leading life sciences industry. By providing vital finance to help at least some of these companies to evaluate, develop and demonstrate their exciting healthcare innovations, the Biomedical Catalyst is helping to turn promising ideas into innovative technologies faster, so providing greater benefits to patients through improvements in health outcomes.”

 

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said:

“It’s fantastic to see such a broad range of high-quality science being supported through the Biomedical Catalyst. By working closely with the Technology Strategy Board, the MRC hopes to continue to facilitate positive relationships between academic researchers and UK SMEs. But the real winners here will be patients, who are set to benefit from more efficient delivery of highly effective new therapies tailored to their needs.”

 

A collaborative project led by IXICO will develop a novel digital healthcare system that will enable faster, earlier and more cost effective dementia diagnosis. Deployed in a memory clinic or a local brain health centre, it will combine computerised cognitive testing and quantitative imaging to make available the quality of information currently only available in highly specialist centres to doctors treating all patients. The project aims to show that this scalable technology could shorten the time to diagnosis from an average 18 months to just three months, thus enabling patients to access timely treatment and support to improve their quality of life. IXICO, Cambridge Cognition and their academic partners will build and test a prototype within the NHS and demonstrate its value before developing a refined prototype that can be rolled-out nationally.

 

University of Oxford scientists will use their Biomedical Catalyst funding to conduct human trials of a universal flu jab that could protect against all known strains of the illness, including the more serious bird and swine flu. If successful, it could eventually replace the annual flu jabs offered to vulnerable groups (such as the elderly and pregnant women). The vaccine works in a completely different way to traditional flu jabs. Instead of targeting the proteins on the outside of the virus, which vary from strain to strain, the new vaccine aims to target molecules inside the virus that are common to all strains. It could provide rapid and broad immunity against flu infection and could also provide a booster for pre-existing immunity in adults and the elderly, which may have diminished over time.

 

Immunocore will take forward the clinical development of a new targeted therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. The company has developed a new class of biologic drug which recognises changes within cells so can be used to treat diseases – such as prostate cancer – that are not currently amenable to targeted biological therapies. Targeted therapies represent a significant advance over traditional chemotherapy because they selectively attack the cancer and not the rest of the body. Immunocore’s project will develop a drug suitable for use in prostate cancer and will culminate in testing the safety and efficacy of this targeted therapy in patients with the disease.

 

Taking into account contributions to the projects from the participating companies, the total value of the research, evaluation, development and demonstration work to be undertaken by the 32 projects exceeds £63 million. Ends

 

Notes to Editors:

  • Grants to the 22 SME-led projects, totalling £29.6 million, will be administered by the Technology Strategy Board. Grants to the 10 university-led projects, totalling £9.5 million, will be administered by the Medical Research Council.

 

  • The 22 business-led projects will be managed by: Arecor Ltd, Bioinduction Ltd, Cantab Biopharmaceuticals Ltd, Creabilis Ltd, Cyclacel Ltd, Discuva Ltd, ELISHA Systems Ltd, Glide Pharmaceutical Technologies Ltd, ImmunoBiology Ltd, Immunocore Ltd, Intelligent Fingerprinting Ltd, IXICO Ltd, Kalvista Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Medical Research Council Technology, Modern Biosciences plc, OJ-Bio Ltd, Pharminox Ltd, Prosonix Ltd, PsiOxus Therapeutics Ltd, QuantuMDx Group Ltd, Sentinel Oncology Ltd and UB Pharma.

 

  • The 10 academic-led projects will be managed by: University of Oxford (2 projects), MRC Unit - The Gambia, Royal Holloway – University of London, King's College London, University College London (3 projects), Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, University of Manchester.

 

For further information about the three projects highlighted please contact:

IXICO Ltd – John Hall, 020 7691 2064, john.hall@ixico.com

Derek Hill, 020 7691 2089, derek.hill@ixico.com

University of Oxford – Jonathan Wood, 01865 280530, jonathan.wood@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

Immunocore Ltd:

James Noble

01235 438602

james.noble@immunocore.com

 

Media enquiries about the Technology Strategy Board funding awards should be addressed to:

Nick Sheppard

Media Relations

07824 599644

nick.sheppard@tsb.gov.uk

Media relations team: 07766 901150, pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk

 

Media enquiries about the Medical Research Council funding awards should be addressed to:

Hannah Isom

Senior Press Officer

0207 395 2345 (out of hours: 07818 428297)

press.office@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

 

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