New treatments for pain and MS being developed in open innovation programme

June 25, 2013
Neurons, confocal fluorescence microscopy. Credit: Carl Zeiss Microscopy

Two revolutionary treatments which could alleviate pain in people with hypersensitivity to heat, and provide a new regenerative therapy with MS sufferers, are being developed University of Cambridge researchers at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK's first open innovation bioscience campus.

First announced in 2012, the programme gives University researchers access to the drug development expertise of GSK and other pharmaceutical companies, while giving industry access to Cambridge research and know-how, in order to accelerate the development of .

There are now two University research projects in place at SBC. Professor Peter McNaughton of the Department of Pharmacology is working on a novel new approach to the pain associated with heat. Billions of dollars are spent each year on the treatment of pain, but there is currently no effective treatment for the associated with hypersensitivity to heat.

Professor Robin Franklin of the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute is developing a new regenerative therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS). MS affects almost 100,000 people in the UK, 400,000 in the United States and several million worldwide.

"This is a ground-breaking approach to early-stage drug discovery, which is typically enormously time-consuming and expensive," said Professor McNaughton. "The exchange of scientific ideas and overall atmosphere of collaboration at SBC can help us as researchers, as well as our industrial colleagues, become more efficient in developing new ideas which will lead to better drugs and improved clinical treatments."

Cambridge is the first university to establish this type of arrangement. Recently, the University, in a bid led by University College London, was awarded a share of £50 million in funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to enable the two universities to work together at SBC, in part to establish a range of collaborative training programmes to develop the next generation of entrepreneurial researchers, particularly in drug discovery. The collaboration is directly supported by the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals' Biomedical Research Centre, and will be further expanded through UCLPartners.

"Cambridge generates world-leading medical research and clinical insight, and in order to develop that research to the point where it can benefit patients, we work in partnership with industry," said Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, the University's Vice-Chancellor. "Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is a strong model for the future of university and industry collaboration."

SBC brings together academia and industry with the goal of developing new innovations in the life sciences though collaboration. A key element of the open innovation environment fostered through SBC is enabling scientific exchange to flourish without the need for exclusive research collaboration agreements between partners, including GSK. The open innovation model allows Cambridge scientists to freely interact with other pharmaceutical biotech, contract research organisations, SBC tenants and academic institutions.

Other universities who are interested in joining this novel initiative for and development are invited to contact Cambridge Enterprise, the University's commercialisation arm, which is facilitating the project, or Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. It is anticipated that between three and five University research projects will be located at SBC at any one time.

Explore further: New collaboration to develop treatments for liver disease

Related Stories

New collaboration to develop treatments for liver disease

September 7, 2012
A new collaboration based at the University of Cambridge will aim to discover and develop new medicines to treat liver disease.

Towards the 'holy grail' of anticoagulant drugs

June 17, 2013
A new spin-out company from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital, XO1 Ltd, has raised $11 million in funding to develop a new anticoagulant drug which has the potential to save millions of lives by preventing ...

AstraZeneca reorg to cut 1,600 jobs in US, UK

March 18, 2013
(AP)—Struggling Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC said Monday that it will eliminate 1,600 jobs, mostly in the U.S. and United Kingdom, as its new CEO starts a major research and development reorganization.

Save the Children teams up with pharma giant GSK in Africa

May 10, 2013
International development charity Save the Children is linking up with British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in what both sides say is a unique collaboration to save children's lives in Africa.

Avatar therapy helps silence voices in schizophrenia

May 29, 2013
An avatar system that enables people with schizophrenia to control the voice of their hallucinations is being developed by researchers at UCL with support from the Wellcome Trust.

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.