Academic collaborations

The Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute will work with academics to develop the most promising targets through early-phase drug discovery.

We are taking a broad approach to target identification, seeking novel targets not only from within the University of Cambridge, but across the UK and globally alongside our partner Institutes at the University of Oxford and UCL.

We are interested in hearing from groups with new biological target proposals. While we are seeking specific targets rather than broader pathways implicated in the disease process, these targets do not have to be already fully validated. Rather, we encourage dialogue at a stage where a mechanism of action has been elucidated through molecular techniques and genetic manipulation and you are happy to build on this initial disease association through further target validation work.

Why academic drug discovery?

Academic drug discovery has gained traction over recent years and the pharmaceutical industry is no longer the sole port of call for target development and lead optimisation. Nearly a fifth of drugs recently approved by the EMA originated from academic and publicly-funded drug discovery programmes, and we’ve seen particular successes in the field of oncology. Neurodegenerative diseases are a huge area of unmet clinical need and one that we can tackle by uniting the deep disease area knowledge of academia with the broad drug discovery expertise of the Drug Discovery Alliance.

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Why Cambridge?

Cambridge carries out world-leading research into a broad range of pathways and processes thought to be important in the development of the diseases that cause dementia, including:

  • Protein misfolding and aggregation
  • The roles of tau and amyloid-beta proteins in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The pathways through which misfolded proteins cause toxicity and neuronal death
  • Mechanisms for removing misfolded and aggregated proteins, most notably autophagy
  • Mitochondrial biology.

In addition, Cambridge researchers are at the forefront of developing the next generation of animal and tissue-based models, including world-leading research into stem-cell based models. Moreover, we have strong links to clinical research and practice within the Alzheimer’s Research UK Cambridge Research Network, facilitating access to clinical samples.

We encourage informal discussion with our Chief Scientific Officer, John Skidmore. Alternatively, you can submit targets for consideration by the Cambridge DDI, or the wider Drug Discovery Alliance, using a pro-forma.

Targets not incorporated into the portfolio of the Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute could be considered by the other two institutes and there is a strong culture of collaboration and support across the Alliance.