MDC scientist lands ELRIG Best Poster prize

A Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) scientist has landed the award for ‘Best Poster’ at the ELRIG Drug Discovery Conference 2021.

Dr Nisha Ponnappan, Postdoctoral Scientist at MDC was given the award for the poster ‘Investigation of Nuvec Particles for Effective Gene Delivery’.

The project saw Nisha, alongside MDC colleagues Dr. Duygu Yilmaz, Dr. James Szczerkowski, Dr. Martin Bachman and Dr. Martin Main, work in partnership with N4 Pharma, a specialist pharmaceutical firm that has developed Nuvec – a unique non-viral adjuvant delivery system for the effective delivery of nucleic acids into the cells – which holds great potential for the development of vaccines and the treatment of cancer.

Biological characterisation of Nuvec particles was carried out using a range of different methods with the data demonstrating that Nuvec particles provide protection to mRNA or DNA, efficiently deliver mRNA or DNA into the cells, and result in the expression of the desired protein.

Dr. Nisha Ponnappan said:

“We are very proud to win the ELRIG Best Poster prize for the work we have done with N4 Pharma. This project demonstrates just how important collaboration is in the development of world-class science and research. We are very happy that our poster grabbed people’s attention and drew focus to the project, thank you to ELRIG and everyone involved with the project”.

This award showcases one of many cutting-edge collaborative projects MDC are undertaking to help UK innovators succeed in advancing drug discovery. Through driving the adoption of new technologies and techniques MDC are working to reshape drug discovery and support the UK drug discovery community in bringing better treatments to patients, faster.

Dr Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer at MDC, said:

“I would like to congratulate Nisha, her fellow MDC authors, and the team at N4 Pharma for their win at ELRIG 2021. MDC views complex medicines that deliver therapeutic and vaccine cargos as an exciting and important direction for medical research. The UK is fertile ground for collaboration in the medicines discovery sector, with organisations like MDC and SMEs like N4 Pharma combining their knowledge, expertise and technical capabilities to develop new therapeutic concepts and programmes.”

ELRIG’s annual drug discovery meeting is the largest meeting for the medicines discovery sector in Europe, and Nisha was not the only MDC scientist to pick up an accolade at the prestigious industry event. Dr Laura Ajram, Psychiatry Consortium Programme Manager at MDC, won the prestigious ELRIG Early Career Impact Award for her outstanding work in the inception and management of MDC’s Psychiatry Consortium; a pioneering collaboration between medical charities, pharma and healthcare organisations, focusing on novel drug discovery in mental health.