A consortium of pharmaceutical firms and UK universities has launched a new £40m fund for early drug research.
AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation will provide funding and expertise to the collaboration with Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and University College London (UCL).
The Apollo Therapeutics Fund will support the translation of academic science from the universities into new medicines for a range of diseases.
Each of the three pharma firms will contribute £10m to the fund over six years while the three universities will each provide £3.3m through their technology transfer offices (TTOs).
The Apollo Therapeutics Investment Committee (AIC) will be based at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and advised by an independent drug discovery team of ex-industry scientists to help identify projects that are to be developed.
It will consider all therapy areas and modalities, including small molecules, peptides, proteins, antibodies, cell and gene therapies.
The fund intends to advance academic preclinical research from the universities to a stage at which it can either be taken forward by one of the industry partners after an internal bidding process or be out-licensed to another party.
The originating university and TTO will receive 50% of future commercial revenues or out-licensing fees for successful projects. The remaining amount will be divided between the partners.
Apollo Therapeutics Investment Committee chairman Ian Tomlinson said: "Apollo provides an additional source of early stage funding that will allow more therapeutics projects within the three universities to realise their full potential.
"The Apollo Therapeutics Fund should benefit the UK economy by increasing the potential for academic research to be translated into new medicines for patients the world over."
Image: UCL Research Facility. Photo: courtesy of UCL.