An international research team based at the University of Bristol in the UK has identified a fatty acid binding pocket in the structure of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that they believe could be exploited to develop small molecule drugs effective against the virus. According to a report published in Science on 21 September, the pocket binds strongly to linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid.
Research & University News
What makes a life science ecosystem flourish? Part of the answer is good universities, venture capital and a critical mass of entrepreneurs eager to commercialise new medicines. These are all features displayed by Cambridge, UK. How this plays out, and what might be done to improve the ecosystem were the subject of discussions at the virtual On Helix meeting on 13 July, organised by One Nucleus, a membership group.
Llft BioSciences Ltd of the UK has teamed up with King’s College London to create a new version of its cell therapy for cancer which uses a special type of neutrophil to attack solid tumours. The cell therapy is still in preclinical development, but the company will work with the university to develop a new version using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). It believes the iPSC version will be easier to manufacture and will deliver significant cost savings to patients.
Human macrophages that were genetically engineered with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) have demonstrated an anti-cancer effect in mice, suggesting a new application for cell therapy in solid tumours. Results from preclinical studies of the new molecule were published in Nature Biotechnology on 23 March 2020.
Researchers from Cardiff University in the UK have described a new type of T cell receptor (TCR) that has been shown in laboratory studies to recognise and kill many human cancer types while ignoring healthy cells. T cells equipped with the new TCR were able to kill a host of malignancies including lung, skin, blood and colon cancers in mice engineered with human cancers and a human immune system. The research was published on 20 January 2020 in the journal Nature Immunology.
The EU is to invest €10 million in a project to expand the use of structural biology in drug discovery and other disciplines. The project is being coordinated by Anastassis Perrakis from the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the Oncode Institute and will involve partners from other countries.
Chiesi Farmaceutici SpA has pledged to invest €350 million over five years to bring a new formulation of inhaler for respiratory diseases to the market with the goal of reducing the carbon footprint of these devices. The company is believed to be the first in the pharmaceutical industry to publicly commit to a lower the carbon footprint for aerosol inhalers. It announced the plan at the United Nations Climate Change Conference on 4 December.
Three scientists who discovered how cells sense and adapt to the availability of oxygen have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. William Kaelin Jr of Harvard Medical School, US; Peter Ratcliffe of the University of Oxford, UK; and Gregg Semenza of Johns Hopkins University, US identified molecular machinery that regulates the activity of genes in response to varying levels of oxygen, discoveries that paved the way for new strategies to treat anaemia, cancer and many other diseases.
Storm Therapeutics Ltd has disclosed data from an animal study of a new small molecule inhibitor of an RNA modifying enzyme which showed activity against cancer. The study results were announced on 18 September at a meeting in Cambridge, UK attended by scientists from Europe and the US who are at the forefront of the new science of RNA epigenetics.
Crescendo Biologics Ltd has entered into collaborations with two UK universities to accelerate development of its lead product for tumours expressing prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). The product, CB307, is due to enter the clinic in 2020.
Separately Crescendo appointed Steward Kay, formerly of GlaxoSmithKline Plc, as its chief business officer.