The center will provide a single point of entry for drug discovery and development innovators to access new capabilities in intracellular drug delivery. (Credit: CPI)

Funded by Innovate UK’s Transforming Medicines Manufacturing program, with a grant of £10 million ($12.6 million) over three years, a new center will provide a single point of entry for drug discovery and development innovators to access new capabilities in intracellular drug delivery.

The partnership is the first of its kind in the UK and will investigate and develop new lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulations for the delivery of RNA medicine, and a frame-work to develop next-generation nano delivery systems.

The Intracellular Drug Delivery Centre will help predict the stability, efficacy, performance, and any potential adverse reactions of RNA vaccines and therapeutics. This will help unlock the potential of RNA-based medicines, creating greater access to cutting-edge, cost-effective vaccines, and therapeutics for the benefit of patients.

“We’re excited to be leading this novel partnership, bringing together leading experts in intracellular drug delivery,” says Dr. Juliana Haggerty, head of the Intracellular Drug Discovery Centre at CPI. “This unique collaboration can provide the industry with unparalleled access to cutting-edge technologies to accelerate drug design, development, characterization, and manufacture. The new center will make it easier for industry to access expertise in this important sector.”

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the enormous potential of nucleic acids — the building blocks of mRNA vaccines; but significant innovation is needed to develop new nucleic-acid-based therapies, understand how they work in the body, and improve manufacturing processes.

Industry needs novel drug-delivery systems, such as LNPs, to support and complement RNA therapeutic developments. Current LNP systems are expensive to access, so identifying novel, cost-effective alternative delivery methods will promote access to nucleic-acid-based vaccines and therapeutics not just in the UK, but around the world.

The new drug-delivery center will provide industry with the much-needed infrastructure to address these challenges and will build on the outstanding expertise and know-how of all partners. According to CPI, the center is also designed to also attract inward investment and to promote resilience and sustainable growth in the UK healthcare ecosystem in order to meet key objectives of its Transforming Medicines Manufacturing program.

There will also be a strong emphasis on training and developing the future workforce through courses and network building for early-career researchers. The funding will cover additional state-of-the-art equipment at its facilities in Sedgefield in the North East of England, along with complementary capability development for its partners.

“Lipid nanoparticles have proven to be a valuable platform for the targeted delivery of medicines and vaccines. Collaborations between industry and academia, such as this new Intracellular Drug Delivery Centre, will be crucial in pushing this technology forward and helping us to deliver the next generation of RNA-based vaccines,” says Prof. Robin Shattock, chair in Mucosal Infection and Immunity at Imperial College London.

The center’s vision is to enable people to live longer, healthier lives and drive economic growth in the health and life sciences sector through innovation, according to Dr. Sarah Goulding, executive director, Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK. “Nucleic-acid-based therapies and vaccines have emerged as exciting new medicines, and developing innovative formulations is a key step to addressing unmet medical needs for patients,” she says. “Innovate UK is investing in this collaboration to drive and de-risk novel technology to improve the targeted delivery of novel medicines, building a leading UK capability for this sector.” The center will provide new capabilities for mRNA-based drug development and manufacture of cost-effective vaccines and therapeutics in the UK, boosting not only economic growth but also security of supply, according to Prof. Yvonne Perrie, head of Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Strathclyde.

CPI is an independent innovation center. For more information, visit here .

Read the report “Shaping the UK into an epicentre for complex medicines.”

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Shaping the UK Into an Epicentre for Complex Medicines

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