Increasing industry engagement & open innovation in health & life sciences

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: UNLISTED


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

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.


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Description Partnership between Alistair Darby (Centre for Genomic Research) and Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. 
Organisation Oxford Nanopore Technologies
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Funding from Liverpool's MRC P2D award was used to support a project between Dr Alistair Darby in Liverpool's Centre for Genomic Research and Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. This is a new collaboration with Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. that aims to use real-time genomics sequencing as a point of care test to close the knowledge gap by providing high resolution species identification and detection of genes potentially involved in AMR. The Centre for Genomic Research will investigate how the ON sequencer can be used to provide rapid identification of infectious agents and identify genes involved in AMR from a clinical sample. The aim is to provide a timeline of when information would be available and test how this could be used to improve the "start smart and focus" model of antimicrobial stewardship.
Collaborator Contribution Whole genome sequencing can be used to identify genes responsible for AMR. There are now a number of sequencing technologies that make it possible to sequence and analyse the complete genome of a bacteria in < 24 hrs. However, there is only one sequencing technology, the Minion, Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. that can provide real-time sequencing information. The ON technology has the unique ability to sequence single DNA molecules and provide sequencing information that can be analysed "on the fly". ONP have offered to provide consumables for the project and technical support for the sequencing and bioinformatics. ONP do not have field based technical support but remote support will be provided by their Senior Director of Applications. Clinical samples and isolates for testing will also be provided.
Impact This project is ongoing and has not produced outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
Description Partnership between Dr Pat Eyers and AstraZeneca 
Organisation AstraZeneca
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a project funded by Liverpool's MRC P2D award between Dr Pat Eyers and AstraZeneca. The project aims to evaluate response and resistance 'signatures' in NSCLC models challenged with multiple AZ clinical kinase inhibitors. The team believe that data produced from this joint Industry and academic venture will inform whether whole-­-kinome analysis can successfully be exploited to individual patients' advantage. Dr Eyers' team believe that tumours and patients might be stratified or monitored through analysis of kinome signatures. Sample lysis, RNA preparation and nanoString profiling will take place in Liverpool, using facilities in Dr Eyers' lab, and a core facility in the Centre for Genome Research, led by Prof Hertz-­-Fowler.
Collaborator Contribution AZ agreed to provide all the human cell samples under MTA, and to perform experiments in which appropriate cells are exposed to a variety of clinical kinase inhibitor combinations under both acute (24h) and prolonged (120 h) drug regimes. Cell pelleting, sample preparation and packaging and delivery on dry ice to Liverpool are estimated to incur costs of approximately £500 per month over the project, a total of ~£5,000 of in-­-kind contributions.
Impact This project is on-going and is yet to produce outputs.
Start Year 2016
Description Partnership between Marco Giardiello and Emultech B.V 
Organisation EmulTech B.V.
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a project funded through Liverpool's MRC P2D award. The prime objective of the project is to evaluate the high throughput microfluidic system, the INFINITY Mini (developed by partner company EmulTech B.V.) for the preparation of uniform emulsions with droplet sizes in the range of 5 to 100 micron in volumes of 1mlto 1Litre. Importantly, the INFINITY Miniis designed with cGMP-production in mind. The closed system with disposable wetted components is easily adapted to an aseptic process, which is critical for drug product manufacture towards human clinical studies. Thus, the integration of such a reproducible microfluidic system into the drug formulation spray drying platform will enhance achievement of SON cGMP manufacture for a variety of AP ls on an industrial scale.
Collaborator Contribution EmulTech B.V. is a company active in the field of Drug Delivery. Since its inception in 2009, they have been dedicated to aiding customers in their development work by providing microfluidic encapsulation equipment and associated development services. Emultech B.V. will provide and set up the INFINITY Mini equipment. Additionally, they will give training and consultancy inits use and provide optimisation support throughout small laboratory to industrial manufacturing scale up. They will aide in terms of equipment design towards integration into the spray drying platform and finally, will work with us towards the cGMP validation of the manufacturing process towards drug product production for human trial evaluation.
Impact The project is ongoing and is yet to produce outputs.
Start Year 2016
Description Partnership between Prof Enitan Carrol and Meso Scale Discovery 
Organisation Meso Scale Delivery
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This is an on-going project funded through the MRC P2D scheme to support a project between Prof Enitan Carrol and Meso Scale Discovery. Prof Carrol's team planned to use a novel electrochemiluminescent multiplex assay technology from Meso Scale Discovery (MSD), called U-PLEX® which uses a propriety linker system that binds to a specific spot of a MULTI-ARRAY plate and to biotin. Up to 10 assays per well can be multiplexed using the system. Detection will be via a SULFO-TAG labelled detection molecule. The team will develop and validate a 5-10 plex assay using both traditional antibodies and novel high-affinity Affimers, and assess performance using 200 well-characterised clinical samples. Once validated the sepsis panel will be licensed to major IVD manufacturers.
Collaborator Contribution Meso Scale Discovery (MSD) is a global leader in the development, manufacture, and commercialization of innovative multiplex assays for the measurement of molecules in biological samples. MSD's proprietary MULTI ARRAY technology enables the profiling of multiple biomarkers simultaneously in a single sample without compromising assay performance. MSD's technology has high sensitivity, excellent reproducibility, and wide dynamic range. MSD is now expanding into the emerging fields of personalized medicine and companion diagnostics. MSD will bring their unique skills and expertise to help develop and validate the multiplex biomarker assay that will develop proof of concept data to commercialise the novel biomarker panel. If the project is successful, Prof Carrol's team will licence to a major IVD company like Alere, Biomerieux or Cepheid.
Impact This project is on-going and has not produced outputs yet.
Start Year 2016
Description Partnership between Prof Peter Weightman and Ash Scientific Ltd 
Organisation Ash Scientific Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a project funded through Liverpool's MRC P2D award between Prof Weightman and Ash Scientific. The project proposed to develop a bench top instrument for the application of sub cellular infrared (IR) imaging to the diagnosis of oesophageal cancer. This is a new approach to cancer diagnosis that has the potential to significantly improve the accuracy of diagnosis based on the traditional H and E staining approach. The technique is to apply scanning near field microscopy (SNOM) at infrared wavelengths to obtain chemical maps of tissue with sub cellular spatial resolution (0.1micron). The approach was pioneered by the Liverpool group with the establishment of a SNOM on the IR free electron laser (FEL) on the ALICE accelerator at Daresbury. However whereas the technique has considerable potential the requirement of an FEL means that it is both impractical and too expensive for clinical use. Preliminary studies in collaboration with ASH Scientific Ltd who manufacture quantum cascade lasers (QCL) have established that the FEL can be replaced by a QCL. This will make it possible to design a bench top instrument for use close to clinic. The team will work with ASH Scientific in a five month programme to optimise the interface between the QCL and the SNOM and demonstrate using oesophageal cells and tissue that the bench top instrument will produce the same results as the IR FEL SNOM combination.
Collaborator Contribution Ash Scientific will provide staff and expertise in using the QCL laser. They will also provide expertise in designing the optical interface to the SNOM. They will provide all technical guidance for the QCL as well as route to market study for the product to be commercially viable. They will look at proof of concept to prototype ideas that could lead to a product.
Impact This project is on-going and has not produced any outputs thus far.
Start Year 2016
Description Partnership between Sudeep Pushpakom and Gemini Biosciences Ltd 
Organisation Gemini Biosciences Ltd.
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a project funded through Liverpool's MRC P2D award to support a partnership between Dr Sudeep Pushpakom and Gemini Biosciences. Insulin resistance (IR)-mediated metabolic disease pose a major public health problem. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR?) is an important regulator of insulin sensitivity; PPAR? full agonists such as rosiglitazone reduce insulin resistance however also cause a number of serious adverse effects. Partial PPAR? agonists such as telmisartan show similar beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity without any considerable side effects; but no PPAR? partial agonist is currently used in clinical practice. The team at Liverpool have characterised the metabolic beneficial effects of telmisartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker, using in vitro adipocyte models; this has also led to a NIHR-funded clinical trial (TAILoR) to investigate the beneficial effect of telmisartan on IR in HIV patients. Telmisartan, even if shown successful in our trial, has some limitations. Conventional development of partial PPAR? agonists may be time consuming and expensive; drug repurposing offers an alternate faster route to achieve this. The team will undertake a quantitative proteomic approach to characterise and compare the proteomic signature of both rosiglitazone and telmisartan to identify the desirable proteome signature for an ideal drug and use signature matching as a strategy for drug repurposing applications in the treatment of metabolic disease.
Collaborator Contribution Gemini Biosciences has expertise and experience in designing and delivery of proteomics projects involving the determination of cellular mechanisms/pathways affected by treating cells with biological, physical or chemical stimuli. They will contribute towards the experimental design, proteomics data analysis and interpretation. They have agreed to contribute the remaining half in kind towards direct mass spectrometry analysis and will also waive cost of staff time associated with the project.
Impact This project is on-going and has therefore not produced outputs at this time.
Start Year 2016