University of Dundee

First funding from the beLAB1407 scheme for cross School collaboration

01 Aug 2022

The University of Dundee has received an award of funding to develop a new therapeutic approach for inflammatory disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The award was made by beLAB1407, a partnership between four leading UK academic institutions and the pharmaceutical companies Evotec and Bristol Myers Squibb. The initiative aims to achieve pre-clinical proof of concept for novel therapeutic targets with the goal of developing new spinout companies or licensing opportunities. 

The funding will enable Dr Ignacio Moraga and Dr Mairi McLean, to work alongside collaborators at Evotec to demonstrate a novel approach to treat inflammatory disorders. Success on the initial goals will unlock additional funding to further advance the programme.

Dr Moraga’s lab in the School of Life Sciences is expert in engineering cytokines. Decoupling the regenerative properties of certain cytokines from the often-detrimental inflammatory properties, has the potential to treat a variety of conditions, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Dr McLean’s lab at the School of Medicine will provide complimentary expertise in human gastrointestinal tissue organoid cultures. 

Anne Muir, Head of IP and Commercialisation said, “I am delighted that this first award for Dundee involves the Schools of Life Sciences and Medicine working together. We look forward to more awards from this exciting initiative and to successfully supporting the spinout opportunities that it will enable.”

Dr Moraga said, “I am excited to be part of the beLAB1407 scheme and I look forward to collaborate with the McLean’s laboratory to use our protein engineering platform to design new drugs to treat inflammation and autoimmunity.”

Dr McLean added, “As a gastroenterologist, I meet patients with IBD in clinic and see first-hand the impact of this disease and the need for new treatments. This project will investigate an exciting new treatment target. I'm delighted my lab will test the effect of this in human gut tissue experimental models. This project reflects an exciting innovative development in the field of IBD research and could potentially make a real difference to individuals in the future.”

Recognising the innovative science and biotech investment environment of the UK, beLAB1407 offers academics the opportunity to access translational funding and experience the industrial drug discovery process first hand.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the beLAB1407 funding scheme should contact Dr Rachel Simpson, from Research & Innovation Services, by emailing r.v.simpson@dundee.ac.uk.

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