Latest Biomedical Catalyst investments will transform patient outcomes
Cutting edge projects have received £23 million of government funding under the Biomedical Catalyst, it has been announced.
The programme is jointly run by the Medical Research Council and Innovate UK, both part of UK Research and Innovation.
In the latest round of awards, the MRC committed almost £13.5 million funding to BMC projects, including:
- University of Nottingham – Dr Weng Chan
A new, pathogen-specific antibiotic to treat and prevent recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, the most common hospital-acquired infection associated with high death and morbidity rates in elderly. Current front-line antibiotics are unsuitable due to lack of selectivity and low gut concentrations.
- University of Cardiff – Professor John Atack
A new drug that may offer the effects of “Valium without sedation” could transform the treatment of anxiety disorders, which affect at least 5% of the population during their lifetime and are estimated to cost the UK economy around £10 billion each year.
- University College London – Professor Waseem Qasim
The next generation of genome-edited immune cells may offer additional treatment options for children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia that fails to respond to current therapy. Creation of ‘off the shelf’ cell banks may overcome issues associated with having to make individual treatments and improve access to therapy.
Dr Louise Jones, head of translational research at the MRC, said: “These latest projects are further demonstration of the world-leading science coming out of the vibrant academic and industrial research base of the UK. The success of the Catalyst’s funding schemes shows the value of dedicated support in the development of therapies, diagnostics and devices that will benefit both patients and the UK economy.”
Announcing the funding, Life Sciences Minister Lord Henley, said: “From new software to diagnose breast cancer to improved gene therapies for children with leukaemia, these projects show the life-changing effect UK research can have.
“The Biomedical Catalyst programme demonstrates our modern Industrial Strategy in action; supporting businesses to develop innovative products and creating the high-skilled jobs of the future whilst improving the lives of people throughout the country.”
Nine early stage projects received total funding from Innovate UK of almost £7.5 million. They included:
- Mammo, Kherion Medical Technologies Ltd – Mammography breast cancer screening software that helps radiologists in the early detection of breast cancer.
- TRUEinvivo Ltd – a 3D cavity dosimeter and image analysis software that can accurately measure the radiation delivered to a tumour and surrounding organs.
- Freeline Therapeutics Ltd – advanced gene therapy product to treat a rare kidney disease.
Innovate UK also funded 15 feasibility projects. These include:
- Toxicity Alert Biosensor, Altair Medical Ltd – smartphone monitoring of patients taking opioids.
- Cohesion Medical Ltd, Cancer Early Detection And Risk (CEDAR) System – using big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide a digital early-warning system for cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment toxicity.
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The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health.