Novel Drug Delivery One-Stop Shop

Catapults and Leading Universities Across the UK to Establish Brand New Intracellular Drug Delivery Centre

CPI is establishing a brand-new Intracellular Drug Delivery Centre in partnership with Medicines Discovery Catapult, the University of Strathclyde, the University of Liverpool and Imperial College London to help develop novel drug delivery technologies and support promising RNA vaccines and therapeutics.

Funded by Innovate UK’s Transforming Medicines Manufacturing programme, with a grant of £10 million over 3 years, the Centre 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 framework to develop next-generation nano delivery systems.

The 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.

Dr Juliana Haggerty, Head of Intracellular Drug Discovery Centre at CPI, said:

“We’re excited to be leading this novel partnership, bringing together leading experts in intracellular drug delivery. This unique collaboration can provide the industry with unparalleled access to cutting-edge technologies to accelerate drug design, development, characterisation, and manufacture.

“The new Centre will make it easier for industry to access expertise in this important sector.”

Dr Martin Main, Chief Scientist, Medicines Discovery Catapult, said:

“Involvement in this important initiative will enable further development of our expertise in preclinical characterisation of LNPs and complex medicines, allowing us to continue serving our community of innovators in this critical area of drug discovery.

“Our 2021 report, Shaping the UK into an epicentre for complex medicines provided clear recommendations to enable the UK to achieve its promise in this field – including improved access to funding, skills and training, and greater opportunities for collaboration. This Centre directly addresses these recommendations, bringing together leading experts in this field to support the innovation required to develop new nucleic-acid-based therapies.”

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.

This new Centre 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. This will also attract inward investment and promote resilience and sustainable growth in the UK healthcare ecosystem, meeting key Transforming Medicines Manufacturing programme objectives.

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 CPI’s facilities in Sedgefield in the North East of England, along with complementary capability development for its partners.

Professor Robin Shattock, Chair in Mucosal Infection and Immunity at Imperial College London, said:

“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 launched today, will be crucial in pushing this technology forward and helping us to deliver the next generation of RNA-based vaccines.”

Sarah Goulding, Executive Director, Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:

“Our vision is to enable people to live longer, healthier lives and drive economic growth in the health and life sciences sector through innovation. 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. 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.”

Dr Neill Liptrott, from the University of Liverpool’s Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, said:

“We are delighted to be a core partner in this innovative new Centre. Our research and expertise, in the immune compatibility of nanotherapeutics and complex medicines, and international infrastructures supporting stakeholders in this field, will support this ambitious infrastructure and we look forward to helping to realise the full potential of RNA-based therapeutics.”

Professor Yvonne Perrie, Head of Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, said:

“This Centre 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. We are delighted to be involved in this exciting new initiative alongside our partners.”