LONDON—The Medical Research Council (MRC), a publicly fundedorganization based in the United Kingdom that supports research for theadvancement of human health, has announced £7 million (approximately $11.3million) in funding for 15 research projects awarded through its collaborationwith AstraZeneca. The compound collaboration, under which AstraZeneca agreed tomake 22 of its chemical compounds available to U.K. researchers free of charge,was announced in December 2011 by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of theU.K. Life Sciences Strategy. The compounds had been validated by AstraZeneca inpreviously conducted early trials, then put on how for further development.Researchers were encouraged to apply to the MRC, which would award up to £7million (approximately $16.1 million), for funding to use in the study of thecompounds.
"AstraZeneca strives to realize the full potential of itsportfolio by collaborating with research experts worldwide in our search fornew and effective medicines that can benefit patients," Martin Mackay,president of AstraZeneca Research & Development, said in a statement."Partnering across government, academia and industry is a critical way to spuradditional scientific innovation and the delivery of new treatments for peoplewho desperately need them."
The MRC ended up looking at more than 100 expressions ofinterest and received 23 full funding proposals, 15 of which were selectedbased on scientific quality and importance after being assessed by the MRC.
"The quality of applications we received for theMRC-AstraZeneca collaboration was higher than we could ever have hoped, and weare delighted to be funding 15 excellent projects," Prof. Patrick Johnston,chair of the MRC's Translational Research Group, said in a press release."Thanks to the generosity of AstraZeneca, UK scientists will be able to carryout medical research that otherwise may never have been possible. Not only willthis bring benefits for patients in the form of more effective medicines and abetter understanding of disease, but it has also allowed academic researchersto forge new partnerships with industry, which will give rise to futurecollaboration across the life sciences sector."
The compounds will be examined across a range of conditionsboth rare and common, from Alzheimer's, cancer and lung disease to motor neurondisease and muscular dystrophies. Eight of the approved projects will involvehuman clinical trials of potential new therapies, and seven will be centered onearlier-stage work in laboratory and animal models.
"From serious but common conditions such as Alzheimer's torarer diseases including motor neurone disease and muscular dystrophy, we stillhave only a limited understanding of the way diseases develop and few therapiesavailable for patients. Scientific advance is rooted in collaboration. The £7mfunding announced today allows scientists access to previously unavailablecompounds that may hold the key to understanding some highly debilitatingdiseases," said Sharmila Nebhrajani, chief executive of the Association ofMedical Research Charities. "Patients are anxiously waiting for new therapies,and collaborations that speed up the time it takes for medicines to bedeveloped and become available to the public are especially welcome. Medicalresearch charities, which themselves invest over £1 billion in scientificresearch each year and have dedicated patient supporters, are also keen to poolour resources with industry and public funders to maximize the impact of thisinvestment."
Intellectual property rights related to IP generated duringcompound use will vary from project to project, with AstraZeneca retaining itsexisting rights to the compounds and any new findings to be owned by thediscovering academic institution.
SOURCE: AstraZeneca press release