Innovation news in brief: dementia; drug discovery; oil and gas; energy; BioAscent

Research will help to drive new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of dementia

Dementia Research Institute funding soars to £250 million

A quarter of a billion pounds has now been pledged towards the UK’s first ever Dementia Research Institute (DRI) after two major UK charities announced £100 million of new investment.

Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK have both pledged £50 million each towards the work of the Institute, led by the Medical Research Council (MRC), in one of the single biggest financial commitments to dementia research in the history of both charities.

The Institute has also been backed by £150 million of government investment. Set to be fully up and running by 2020, the Institute will have a central UK hub with a network of regional centres and is expected to engage hundreds of scientists. It will focus on the innovative, discovery science needed to unlock our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development and progression of the dementias. This research will help to drive new approaches to diagnosis, treatment, care provision and ultimately prevention of the disease

Science minister Jo Johnson said: “This government has been crystal clear that we want Britain to lead the way in tackling this terrible condition, and scientific research and understanding is crucial to this.

“This Institute, with unprecedented funding from government and leading charities, presents a unique opportunity to pull together the UK’s world leading scientists and cutting edge research tools to get on with the job of defeating this disease for good."

Adorial and C4X Discovery: Combined firm powers drug discovery

Two health and life science businesses have come together to create a powerful way to find and design new drugs.

Adorial Pharma Ltd, developer of Taxonomy3, a mathematical tool that identifies causes of disease that can be targeted by drugs, has been acquired by C4X Discovery, an innovative drug discovery company.

Adorial’s technology, which is based on novel mathematics, analyses publicly available genetic data sets generated across broad therapeutic areas and is able to mine more genetic insights than conventional methods.

The combination with C4X Discovery’s Conformetrix software platform means the new organisation can now find novel proprietary drug targets and rapidly design and discover new drugs for multiple diseases.

Dr Alun McCarthy, former chief executive of Adorial now vice-president novel target biology and genomics at C4X, said: "The combination of Adorial’s ability to identify novel drug targets with C4X’s ability to rapidly generate molecules against these targets creates an extremely powerful drug discovery engine.

Dr Clive Dix, executive chairman of C4X Discovery, said: "With Adorial, we now not only have the ability to create the best-in-class molecules against any known therapeutic target using C4XD’s approach to ligand-based drug discovery, but also the ability to identify our own highly relevant and unique targets using Taxonomy3."

OGIC supports innovative oil well intervention technology

The Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) in Aberdeen is supporting the development of a new concept for well intervention developed by Well-SENSE Technology Ltd, a newly formed Aberdeen based company, specialising in the development of downhole technology.

OGIC has committed 50% of the required funding for the work to be carried out by RGU and Well-SENSE are now seeking a 50% match commitment from industry.

Innovations in well intervention technology could achieve significant cost and efficiency savings. Well-SENSE’s new concept, FibreLine Intervention, combines several novel concepts in a single technology package, and represents a radical advance in downhole tools. The technology has received positive feedback from the industry and investment is required to move the project forward to full development.

Nine energy innovations selected for EU Sustainable Energy Awards

The nine finalists in the 2016 EU Sustainable Energy Awards have been announced. The awards, which recognise outstanding innovation in energy efficiency and renewables, is part of the European Sustainable Energy Week, a month-long series of activities taking place in June to help build a secure energy future for Europe.

Activities include the EUSEW Policy Conference, Energy Days and Networking Village and the EU Sustainable Energy Awards.

More information on the awards, the finalists and their innovations is available here

BioAscent launches a ‘Spotify’ for drug discovery

A Scottish compound management company BioAscent is launching ‘Compound Cloud’ – which they describe as ‘the Spotify of the drug discovery world’.

Organisations involved in the search for new drugs need a range of chemical compounds to test against their biological assays. In the past, these organisations were faced with either creating their own compounds, which is costly and time consuming, or buying fixed sets of compounds in large amounts, inevitably leading to wastage.

Compound Cloud will enable customers to have complete control over the content and format of their compound library to fit their exact needs - eliminating wastage and reducing storage space by offering ‘just in time’ global delivery of pre-plated sets containing just enough compound for an assay.

BioAscent predicts that high demand for this service will increase turnover for this part of their company by 300 per cent over the next year, with three quarters of orders coming from overseas markets, including Europe, the US and Canada.

Simon MacKenzie, BioAscent’s CEO said: “Compound Cloud was created after gathering extensive feedback from our customers. It provides simple, rapid and flexible access to quality compound libraries for drug discovery. It will allow customers to have complete control over their compound library, using our library as if it were their own.”

Glenn Crocker, chief executive of BioCity Group added: “Around 35% of early stage drug discovery projects in both industry and academia fail at the hit stage due to the poor structural properties of the compounds found through biological testing, which means there is no value to progressing these any further. This can be hugely frustrating for all involved, after what can be years of biological work. Compound Cloud is an exciting development which will help improve companies’ chances of drug discovery success, which is good news not just for the companies but for healthcare in general.”