“INDUSTRY PARTNERS FOR ALL” PROGRAMME – Building the Foundation for Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industry Engagement at the University of Leicester

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester

Abstract

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Technical Summary

The MRC Proximity to Discovery scheme awards universities funds to help develop new collaborations, and ways of exchanging knowledge and skills.  The awards can be used to support activities that promote the value of academic-industry partnership, and enhance academic and industry researchers’ understanding of each other’s needs and capabilities.  This may be through people exchanges, creation of technology demonstrators, showcase events, commercialisation workshops and ‘entrepreneurs in residence’ schemes.  Such exchanges of knowledge and skills will boost the most fruitful collaborations between UK universities and life science companies.
 
Description Beta-blockers could reduce death among those with diabetes and hypoglycaemia
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Influence of the prescription of specific classes of beta-blockers may reduce mortality in patients with heart disease and hypoglycaemia - precision medicine approaches fin multimorbitity. Further work is required to fully validate this approach which is ongoing with NovoNordisk.
URL https://le.ac.uk/news/2019/february/22-beta-blockers-reduce-death-diabetes-hypoglycaemia
 
Description Variant validator - improved mutation calling for clincal genetics
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Better variant calling in the assignment of causal genetic mutations resulting in more accurate diagnosis of inherited diseases. The use of the new software is beinging tested and validated locally (through East Midlands & East of England NHS Genomic Laboratory Hub). Impact case for REF 2021.
URL https://variantvalidator.org/variantvalidator/
 
Description MRC CiC
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description MRC CiC
Amount £70,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description MRC CiC
Amount £31,600 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Title VariantValidator 
Description Novel and accurate base calling tool for the identification of disease causing genetic disease 
Type Of Material Data handling & control 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Better variant calling in the assignment of causal genetic mutations resulting in more accurate diagnosis of inherited diseases. The use of the new software is beinging tested and validated locally (through East Midlands & East of England NHS Genomic Laboratory Hub). Impact case for REF 2021. 
URL https://variantvalidator.org/
 
Description Computational and biophysical approaches: in silico screening for drug discovery programs at LifeArc 
Organisation LifeArc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The secondee analysed the structural-activity relationship between screening fragments also generated the theoretical computational fragment/protein docking models for searching queries against commercial databases to identify additional fragments for testing and searching potential TB treatment drugs.
Collaborator Contribution LifeArc provided the chemical fragment library for us to screen potential inhibitors against TB protein. Also they provided us an opportunity to acquire the experience on doing computational analysis of fragment library screening hits.
Impact We got 12 hits for TB protein by in vitro and computational screening assays for further inhibitors screening. The collaboration is not multi-disciplinary. A number of hits have been further validated - but there is no further commercial interest in the project (March 2019). A paper has been published using outputs from this secondment DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00931-18
Start Year 2017
 
Description Development of novel small molecules for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 
Organisation GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have provided structural biology information and early cellular data to provide target validation. We are now supporting a GSK lead Med Chem programme by providing and running complex cellular and pre-clinical models such as explants, PDX models and PK/PD studies.
Collaborator Contribution GSK are providing on-going structural biology data to support a medicinal chemistry programme and are also developing novel assays to demonstrate target engagement.
Impact We have progressed from the GSK Fast Track award scheme of lead identification to the DPAC award scheme which is the lead optimisation phase of the drug discovery pipeline. Within the DPAC scheme, we have moved from milestone 1 to milestone 2. It is hoped that this programme of work will ultimately result in a 'to clinic' drug. DPAc programme with GSK is still ongoing and progressing. Ana Sousa Manso has now left the LD3 team and is working as a Biology Project Coordinator for C4X Discovery Ltd, Manchester, United Kingdom (reported elsewhere in this application). Updated March 2019
Start Year 2016
 
Description Improve use of MRS to quantify triglycerides in type 2 diabetes at Resonance Health Analysis Services Ltd. 
Organisation Resonance Health
Country Australia 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for one PI from Leicester Cardiovascular Science department to travel and stay at Resonance Health Analytical Services in Perth, Australia to learn from their expertise and resources with regards to Proton-magetic resonance spectroscopy.
Collaborator Contribution Resonance Health Analytical Services would provide the equipment and expertise to teach the secondee.
Impact The collaboration has lead to the development of novel algorithms for predicting cardiac fat deposition which has lead to follow on funding from MRC CiC Funding MC_PC_16051 and follow on grant funding described elsewhere in this application and CiC RF return.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Improving knowledge of CRISPR technology at MedIummune 
Organisation MedImmune
Department MedImmune Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for one PI from Leicester Infection, Immunity & Inflammation department to travel and stay at MedImmune Cambridge to learn about using CRISPR technology from their expertise and resources.
Collaborator Contribution MedImmune would provide the equipment and expertise to teach the secondee.
Impact The secondment took place and information/protocols exchanged but no further collaborations are anticipated.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Leicester Diabetes Centre and GSK on EMIF (European Medical Information Project) project 
Organisation GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for one PI from Leicester Diabetes Centre to travel and stay at GSk to use the EMIF resources and databases.
Collaborator Contribution GSK will provide expertise and access to the EMIF database to run the project.
Impact A successful placement was undertaken and access to database - outputs being colated for publishing. PI Nafeesa Dhalwani has now left UoL and is working with a company (Evidera) designing and implementing real-world evidence for safety, effectiveness, and value is necessary to achieve successful market access and product uptake for novel therapeutic interventions (detailed elsewhere in this report). Update March 2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description Leicester Diabetes Centre and Novo Nordisk on Beta blockers effects on the association of hypoglycemia with cardiovascular mortality. 
Organisation Novo Nordisk
Country Denmark 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Strengthen the relationship with the pharma company (Novo Nordisk) to investigate pharmacoepidemiology questions using real-word databases
Collaborator Contribution Substantial support to conduct the research
Impact Medicine, pharmacology, epidemiology. The output is the preparation of a manuscript which summarises the research conducted. The aim is to submit the manuscript to a high-impact factor international journal. Paper published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases online from 16 February 2019. DOI:10.1016/j.numecd.2019.01.006 - also added to publications section of this review. Update March 2019.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Promotion of Variant Validator software to various companies 
Organisation BC Platforms AG
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for two PI's from Leicester Genetics department to travel and visit multiple European companies to understand the potential application of their software, and to assess the suitability of each company as a potential collaborator.
Collaborator Contribution The companies provided advice and opinions on the software package to the secondees.
Impact Discussions are still ongoing with BC platforms (March 2019). Follow on work for the development of the software is ongoing however the project has focused on other relationships (with Genomics England Ltd and has resulted in funding from the Wellcome Trust & other activities expanded on elsewhere and in the follow on P2D funding MC-PC-15056)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Promotion of Variant Validator software to various companies 
Organisation Interactive Biosoftware
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for two PI's from Leicester Genetics department to travel and visit multiple European companies to understand the potential application of their software, and to assess the suitability of each company as a potential collaborator.
Collaborator Contribution The companies provided advice and opinions on the software package to the secondees.
Impact Discussions are still ongoing with BC platforms (March 2019). Follow on work for the development of the software is ongoing however the project has focused on other relationships (with Genomics England Ltd and has resulted in funding from the Wellcome Trust & other activities expanded on elsewhere and in the follow on P2D funding MC-PC-15056)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Promotion of Variant Validator software to various companies 
Organisation PhenoSystems SA
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for two PI's from Leicester Genetics department to travel and visit multiple European companies to understand the potential application of their software, and to assess the suitability of each company as a potential collaborator.
Collaborator Contribution The companies provided advice and opinions on the software package to the secondees.
Impact Discussions are still ongoing with BC platforms (March 2019). Follow on work for the development of the software is ongoing however the project has focused on other relationships (with Genomics England Ltd and has resulted in funding from the Wellcome Trust & other activities expanded on elsewhere and in the follow on P2D funding MC-PC-15056)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Promotion of Variant Validator software to various companies 
Organisation Saphetor SA
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for two PI's from Leicester Genetics department to travel and visit multiple European companies to understand the potential application of their software, and to assess the suitability of each company as a potential collaborator.
Collaborator Contribution The companies provided advice and opinions on the software package to the secondees.
Impact Discussions are still ongoing with BC platforms (March 2019). Follow on work for the development of the software is ongoing however the project has focused on other relationships (with Genomics England Ltd and has resulted in funding from the Wellcome Trust & other activities expanded on elsewhere and in the follow on P2D funding MC-PC-15056)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Secondment to Xenogesis Ltd for a DMPK overview 
Organisation XenoGesis Ltd
PI Contribution One PI from Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics department travelled and visited Xenogesis in Nottingham to investigate how LD3 can potentially collaborate with Xenogesis, and learn more about industry approaches to DMPK from their expertise and resources.
Collaborator Contribution Xenogesis would provide the equipment and expertise to teach the secondee.
Impact "We are in discussion with the PK-PD specialists, XenoGesis to form a collaboration of mutual benefit, which would provide both in vivo testing by UoL and analysis at XenoGesis." Home Office Licences are being out in place to facilitate this collaboration and discussion are continuing (March 2019)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Training on soft tissue sarcoma (STS) analysis at Imagen Therapeutics 
Organisation Imagen Therapeutics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are sending tumour samples to IT for drug sensitivity testing; we conduct genome wide genetic and bioinformatic analysis in these tumour samples.
Collaborator Contribution IT test each tumour for sensitivity to about 50 chemotherapeutic drugs
Impact No firm outputs from this activity to date - the preparation of an article for publication is underway (March 2019). No follow on plans are in place for this project as the MD/PhD student leading the sarcoma work is now back in clinical parctice.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Understanding development of commercial probiotic products at Protexin 
Organisation Protexin
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution • Conception of research idea • Planning and conducting of human volunteer research study • Collection and analysis of resulting research samples (funded in conjunction with support from MRC CiC award MC_PC_16051)
Collaborator Contribution • Analysis of company-owned IP to target suitable product for research study • Commercial-grade production of nutritional supplement for volunteer study • Funding for research project
Impact • £112,255 funding from company to UoL • £60,000 top up funding from UoL LD3/MRC CiC funding call • Disciplines - clinical science, nutritional science, microbiology, genetics and analytical science Licencing and revenue deal established (UoL and Protexin) in 2018
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Leicester and Affymetrix to develop a bioinformatics and statistical analyses workflow to analyse Affymetrix Human Transcriptome Array. 
Organisation Affymetrix Inc.
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for a PI from Leicester Cardiovascular Department to travel and stay at Affymetrix HQ in USA to set up a new collaboration, use their resources and learn from their expertise.
Collaborator Contribution Allowing secondment and provide expertise and resources
Impact Excellent exchange with access to high level information and the development of a novel workflow for data analysis - publications in preparation (update March 2019)
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Leicester and AstraZeneca Open Innovation platform 
Organisation AstraZeneca
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have provided collaboration framework and covered reagents, travel and accommodation expenses for a PI from University of Leicester to develop the right assays to screen approximately 50,000 pre-selected compounds targeted towards Kinase inhibition for screening to identify Nek8 inhibitors and understand potential mechanisms of action of Nek8 inhibitors in cancer cells. Expertise in novel target identification.
Collaborator Contribution AZ will contribute in the screening of approximately 50,000 pre-selected compounds. Access to company's NEK family kinase inhibitors for screening.
Impact We have secured a Research Collaboration and Option Agreement with AstraZeneca to cover NEK1 and NEK8. Clear workflows and plans are in place. A follow up P2D exchange program has taken place (late 2018) with funding from MC_PC_17194 to further screen compounds at AZ (Alderly Park campus) and to develop a POC package for target engagement (with AZ compounds and NEK1) which is being completed with MRC CiC support (MC_PC-15045) to be presented to AZ Oncology Group (Summer 2019) for funding/co-development options. A paper is in preparation around the NEK8 work.(Update March 2019)
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Leicester and Biosense Webster Inc. on improving efficacy of catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation 
Organisation Johnson & Johnson
Department Biosense Webster
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Prof. G Andre Ng tested new pre-market catheters with the Biosense Webster clinician team. Feedback and advicev on further direction of development were provided by Leicester team during the following meeting with Biosense Webster R&D team.
Collaborator Contribution The company offered one-day event visiting the lab and hand-on experience of new pre-market catheters for improving efficiency and accuracy. Leicester team obtained unique experience of new line of products that could help the planning of further research activities.
Impact Leicester is participating a multi-centre trial of ablation with linear type catheter lead by Biosense Webster. The research output will be a journal article after the trial. Yes, the collaboration is multi-disciplinary between Engineering at Biosense Webster R&D and Cardiovascular Sciences, Electrophysiology, Biomedical Engineering at Leicester. With this initial visit, we are trying to keep on-going conversations aiming to get more access to Biosense Webster mapping system which will help the planning and conduction of investigator-initiated projects at Leicester. Consultancy with Biosense Webster and Prof Ng has been established and is ongoing.
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Leicester and Blackrock Microsystems on a new generation of portable and digital acquisition systems for 24/7 human electrophysiology. 
Organisation Blackrock Microsystems LLC
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for PI and postdoc (Centre for Systems Neurosciences) to travel and stay at Blackrock Microsystems subsidiary in Germany to develop relationships and generate a new generation of portable and digital acquisition systems for 24/7 human electrophysiology. MRC CiC follow up funding has been put in palce to further the development of the prototype receiver for 24/7 single neuron recordings. UoL contributes significant know-how and expertise in the development of novel transceivers, detectors and acquisition systems Access to patients (Kings College, London, Nancy, Barcelona and Buenos Aires) for live recordings (databases)
Collaborator Contribution BM will provide access to resources and software.
Impact Placement completed with significant assistance from Blackrock. Further discussions are in place with the company to use/adapt their recording systems to facilitate 24 hr recordings. Follow on work is currently funded by MRC CiC MC-PC_17171 to produce new algorithms to adapt data from Blackrock systems for 24 hr recording in hospitals in Buenos Aires and King's College Hospital (London). Update March 2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Leicester and Medtronic collaboration on DRG (Dorsal Root Ganglion) modulation in preventing ventricular arrhythmias 
Organisation Medtronic
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a secondment project. We have provided collaboration framework and covered travel and accommodation expenses for one PI and his PhD from Leicester Cardiovascular Department to travel and stay at Medtronic in Netherlands to run few experiments and use their expertise and resources.
Collaborator Contribution Medtronic will offer resources and expertise at their site. They will also come to Leicester to develop IT packages to analyse the clinical data of CT and MRI scans from Leicester which will inform development of translational strategies to deliver a clinical effective treatment based on the novel preclinical mechanistic data.
Impact Ongoing relationship with Medtronic in the development of novel methods for the prevention of ventricular arrhythmia's. Sharing of knowledge and techniques that were brought back to Leicester to forward research. No current plans for joint applications on this project but new P2D funding has been requested for further meetings to develop machine learning tools to target catheter ablations (update March 2019).
Start Year 2017
 
Description BioHomecoming 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact http://www2.le.ac.uk/news/blog/2016-archive/october/industry-and-academia-build-links-in-precision-medicine-and-drug-discovery

The University of Leicester hosted an event bringing together industry and academic in fruitful discussions on drug discovery and precision medicine.
It was hosted at the Leicester Tigers Conference Centre and attended by over 300 delegates, 170 of which were industry delegates from the Pharma and Biotechnology sectors, including alumni, regional contacts and current collaborators of the University of Leicester.

Dr Ismael Tejero, Business Development Manager for the College of Medicine and main organiser of the event, said: "We managed to advertise our expertise and scientific offer, including our two new Research Institutes of Precision Medicine and Structural and Chemical Biology, to a broad range of delegates in the biomedical industry.

"The environment created during the Bio-Homecoming event really encouraged our academics to successfully establish and develop relationships with industrial peers across the country but also from Ireland and Switzerland. With more than 25 exhibitors and 600 scheduled one-to-one meetings, this event has started big and there is already a lot of interest and expectation to see the agenda for the Bio-homecoming 2017."

Feedback from the event was very positive, with many commenting on the networking value of the one-to-one sessions.

Professor Philip Baker (pictured left), Dean of Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: "The interaction of clinicians and scientists from our College - with industry partners, generated a tremendous buzz. We are absolutely serious about strengthening and enhancing the synergies between academia and industry - in order to ensure that our research discoveries translate to public and patient benefit."

Ian Cox from Idaco Consulting said: "I attend a lot of partnering events and this one was extremely well organised and run. The venue was ideal (even though I support Northampton Saints.), a good blend of talks and exhibitors, and the partnering meetings worked really well. Catering facilities were excellent. All in all a very enjoyable day. It was great to finally see what Leicester has to offer and I hope this event becomes an annual event because it will certainly increase and improve the University's visibility."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.biohomecoming.com/
 
Description LISCB - Bench to business event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The money was used to organise a meeting to introduce selected industry partners and translational funders to the expertise and capabilities of the newly formed Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology (LISCB).
There were a number of key objectives in organising the meeting:
- Promote LISCB facilities and expertise
- Scope out potential for LISCB consortium
- Build key relationships, accelerate specific interactions and start new ones
- Educate ourselves and our collaborators on Innovate UK funding
• Attainment, or otherwise, of the project deliverable

The meeting generated a number of new activities:
- Progression of Epigenetic and splicing consortium regarding terms of reference, membership fees and aims of the group
- Early discussions in progress with Selcia and academic to apply for Innovate UK funding
- GSK interest in engaging with the University on a collaborative bid opportunity on PROTACs using single molecule techniques
- Potential for further company discussions with GSK and AZ when appropriate around Cryo-EM expertise
We were also able to follow up with companies that were unable to attend by sending them our LISCB brochure post event which has led to further engagement and discussions around potential areas for collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description LPMI event - collaboration to drive innovation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The aim of this event was to inform both life sciences companies and academics of the opportunities available through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and the potential for research funding. The event included discussions and workshops on:
• Informatics and digital health
• Innovation in health and disease detection using diagnostic, preventative and sensor technologies
Outcomes were recorded and circulated after the event. One proposed project, a portable isolation unit, is currently being followed through to a NIHR i4i application, and several others are in the pipeline.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017