UCL establishes its presence at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Date: 12 March 2014

UCL has established its presence in the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) through moving threeresearch projects into laboratory space there.

Theseprojects – together with Puridify, a spin-off company of UCL Department of BiochemicalEngineering – will properly establish UCL’s presence in SBC.

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst press release

The initiative is part of UCL’s drive to engage moreclosely with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries for translatingits research to meaningful innovation for improving patients’ health andquality of life.

These research projects have been strategically chosen byUCL’s Translational Research Office in the UCL School of Life and MedicalSciences and by UCL Business PLC (UCLB), the university’s technology transfercompany. They were selected because of their commercialisation potential andthe benefits that the SBC open innovation campus will offer.

The innovative model will see academic and industryresearch staff work side-by-side on potential therapeutics in a way which, itis hoped, will speed their development and delivery to patients.

The projects – which are co-funded by the HigherEducation Funding Council England (HEFCE) catalyst fundand the NationalInstitute for Health Research (NIHR) University College LondonHospitals BiomedicalResearch Centre –have taken up residence in separate laboratories with state of art facilitiesfor research in chemistry, biology and clean manufacturing.

The first research project is from the laboratory ofProfessors Alexander Seifalian and George Hamilton to develop vascular andcoronary artery bypass grafts. It will be project managed by UCLB, who willdevelop laboratory space in the SBC into a clean manufacturing environment for afirst-in-human clinical investigation of a new generation of biocompatiblegrafts.

The second project in the chemistry laboratory willuse a novel platform of chemistries, developed by the teams of ProfessorStephen Caddick and Dr James Baker – co-founders of ThioLogics Ltd – to developwell-defined, stable and consistent antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) for thetreatment of cancer. ADCs combine the unique targeting capabilities of antibodies with the cancer-killing abilityof cytotoxic drugs. 

The third project willbe located within the biology laboratory and will be led by Professor Rachel Chambers from UCL’s Centre forInflammation and Tissue Repair within the Division of Medicine. The project under the day-to-daydirection of Dr Andrew Williams, will investigate potential therapeutics forthe treatment of neutrophilic inflammation.

Commenting onthese projects, Professor Sir John Tooke, Vice-Provost (Health) at UCL, said:

“UCL has madea strategic decision to take up lab space in SBC to accelerate the translationof cutting edge research into new therapeutic opportunities.

“The projects have been chosen because of their highpotential to benefit from the collaborative research environment in theCatalyst. The relationships built from such work will foster the collaborativeenvironment between academia and medical science industries so vital formedical innovation.”

ProfessorStephen Caddick, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) at UCL, said:

“TheStevenage Biosciences Catalyst provides unrivalled incubation facilities forthe progression of frontier research, all in an open innovation environmentwhich is optimised for working with industry which should accelerate theprogression of these projects for economic and health benefit.

“My team andI are looking forward to progressing our own specific programme and bringingthe benefits to patients in the future.”

Dr MartinoPicardo, CEO of the Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst, said:

“We aredelighted to welcome UCL’s projects to the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst.

“UCL’sresearch in the field of medical and life sciences is world-leading and oncecommercialised successfully, these projects stand potentially to make a realcontribution to the health and quality of life of patients.”

Professor Bryan Williams, Director of the National Institute forHealth Research UCL Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, added:

“We are delighted at the BRC that this initiative is moving intothe next phase. I see this as a crucial move in our bid to fast track thedevelopment of new treatments that will have a direct effect on patient care.

“The arrival of three ground-breaking UCL research projects atStevenage Bioscience Catalyst opens up an exciting new future.”