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The next generation of medicines

7 December 2012

Dr Arwyn Jones
Dr Arwyn Jones

Cardiff is part of a major European consortium aiming to improve the process of moving novel therapeutic molecules into effective medicines.

The €30M COMPACT project funded by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Association (EFPIA) is designed to develop the delivery and targeting of biopharmaceuticals based on biological macromolecules such as genes and proteins.

Cardiff's involvement in the five-year research programme is led by Dr Arwyn Jones, of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The other team members are Dr Mark Gumbleton, also of the School, and Dr Pete Watson and Professor Paola Borri of the School of Biosciences.

Dr Jones said: "The insides of cells contain thousands of new therapeutic targets for treating diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration and rare genetic diseases. Increasingly the therapeutics are biological entities that require a vector to deliver them to the insides of cells.

"Solving the bottleneck of biopharmaceutical delivery into cells is a major remit of COMPACT and the hope is that it will lead to development of new drug delivery systems that efficiently deliver therapeutics to reach intracellular targets.

Along with Cardiff, 13 European academic institutions, two biotech companies and seven major pharmaceutical companies are involved in the research. Each represents Europe's frontrunners in pharmaceutical sciences, nanotechnology, biology, chemistry, engineering and bio-imaging.

Ekkehard Leberer, of Sanofi and COMPACT's scientific co-ordinator said: "The COMPACT consortium offers excellent possibilities to join forces to address a major challenge in the development of innovative biotherapeutics by combining academic fundamental research and applied drug development in the pharmaceutical industry."

Enrico Mastrobattista of the University of Utrecht, who heads the academic consortium, added: "I am very excited about this unique public-private partnership between major players in the pharmaceutical field to work on the problem of delivery of biopharmaceuticals. Only a collaboration of this size, are we able to tackle some of the urgent problems that hamper the development of candidate biopharmaceuticals into useful medicines."