26 June 2012
A long-standing University research collaboration that is leading to new antiviral drugs, with a massive potential impact for healthcare worldwide has won a major Cardiff University award.
Professor Chris McGuigan of the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) were presented with the Business Innovation Prize by David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, at the University's annual Innovation and Impact Awards.
BMS are progressing INX189 (BMS-094) a novel compound for hepatitis C virus (HCV) through major efficacy trials in HCV-infected patients.
Originally discovered by Professor McGuigan and his team in Cardiff, INX189 was developed in collaboration with the small US company, Inhibitex. The company had previously acquired FV-100, a new potential treatment for shingles, also from Chris McGuigan's laboratory.
Largely on the basis of FV-100 and, mainly, INX189, Inhibitex was sold in February 2012 to Bristol-Myers Squibb for $2.5Bn.
The Business Innovation Award recognises the significant healthcare, commercial and economic impact arising from the discovery and clinical development of the drugs. More than 160 million people worldwide are affected by Hepatitis C; this represents 3% of the World's population. In Europe and America, around one million people each year suffer with shingles. If approved for market, both FV-100 and INX189 have potential for enormous healthcare benefits in relation to both illnesses.
Alongside this, the collaboration has given researchers and postgraduate students the chance to gain hands-on experience of drug development from discovery to clinical trials - knowledge which directly feeds back into undergraduate teaching on the Pharmacy degree at Cardiff.
Highly-skilled jobs in the biotechnology sector in both Cardiff and America have been created thanks to the collaboration and Cardiff has benefitted financially at each stage of the development process.
Professor McGuigan, Cardiff School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, said: "I am delighted to receive the Business Innovation Prize and share in this recognition with my team at Cardiff and our collaborators at Inhibitex and now Bristol-Myers Squibb. Our initial aim, to identify novel drug candidates has been far exceeded with the pre-clinical and clinical results. This award recognises both a scientific and a commercial success for Cardiff, Wales and beyond."
Amadou Diarra, Bristol-Myers Squibb's European Vice President & General Manager, UK & Ireland said: "We are delighted to receive the Business Innovation Prize. The collaboration with Professor McGuigan and his team in Cardiff has resulted in a prime example of innovation and we greatly appreciate the recognition. Additionally, the tangible outcomes from the partnership have the potential to address an unmet need for patients requiring treatment."
The Awards are an opportunity for Cardiff University academic staff to showcase their innovative collaborations with business and other non-academic organisations, demonstrating the positive impact that academic research can have on economy and society.