From molecule to bedside
King’s College London has a strong tradition in pharmaceutical science, world class pharmacology, clinical pharmacology and therapeutics. This has led to the creation of a number of spin out companies, including MedPharm and Proximagen Neuroscience plc, as well as having the Quintiles Drug Research Unit at our Guy’s campus fully embedded within King’s College London.
The Institute of Pharmaceutical Science (IPS) was created in November 2010 to bring together the relevant research groupings across King’s College London. By developing an integrated and cohesive multidisciplinary approach, we are working to enable accelerated drug discovery, enhanced identification of drug targets for drug development, improved therapeutic agents, and efficient drug delivery systems.
In addition to the established groups of Chemical Biology, Pharmaceutical Biophysics, Drug Delivery, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and Clinical Practice and Medication Use, IPS is closely linked to Clinical Pharmacology, the Quintiles Drug Research Unit at Guy’s, the Biomolecular Spectroscopy Centre, cancer research, the Institute of Psychiatry, and Translational Medicine, thus creating strong alliances between the basic sciences and clinicians in our partner NHS trusts. This association facilitates the identification and evaluation of medicines, and the more effective, safer prescription of therapies to improve healthcare regionally and nationally.
King’s College London, along with our associated NHS Trusts, is also part of King’s Health Partners which has Pharmaceutical Sciences as a strong Clinical Academic Group (CAG). IPS will take a leading role in this exciting initiative.
As part of the King’s Health Partners relationship we are working to establish a King’s College London Drug Discovery/Development Unit to work closely with research divisions, the Joint Clinical Trials Office (JCTO) and the technology transfer team to identify unique opportunities for new drugs, formulations and delivery devices that can be taken to phase 1/2a trials before licensing to third parties. An Advisory Board composed of leading academic advisers from King’s College London, industry and the regulatory sector, aims to select suitable drug discovery and development projects. This will foster and guide an expansion of our research activities in Pharmaceutical Science in collaboration with the biotech and pharma Industries.
IPS has expertise in the development of a broad range of biological assays and analytical techniques for the evaluation of novel drugs and mechanisms of action. When coupled with in house in-vivo models and access to key patient groups through our Health Service partners, this provides a firm foundation from which to grow our Drug Discovery initiative. At the same time, our expertise in the areas of formulation and drug delivery provides opportunities for the development of novel and innovative methods for both the delivery and the targeting of medicines.
In addition, those working in the clinic have relevant expertise in both preliminary proof-of-concept studies and early clinical trials enabling us to fully exploit the output from the Discovery and Development activities, while providing key direction in these projects to ensure viable and useful end products can be delivered.
IPS also has considerable research strengths in pharmacology and clinical pharmacology, analytical science and medicinal chemistry, including molecular modelling. Within IPS there is particular strength in pulmonary pharmacology with excellent collaboration existing between pharmacologists and drug delivery specialists; this includes work on an MRC-supported project to investigate the safety and tolerability of inhaled nanoparticles.
Members of the IPS are also actively involved in improving the use of medicines in clinical practice. Significantly, King’s Health Partners acts as the hub for the South London Health Innovation Education Cluster (HIEC) – this is leading to the creation of a Centre for Effective Medicines Use, an initiative currently led by IPS.
Impact and Innovation
The IPS at King’s College London, in collaboration with our NHS Trust partners, are working hard to improve the nature, substance and quality of healthcare and its delivery in London and beyond, as well as contributing to UK plc. Academics in IPS have a multiplicity of collaborations with industry (e.g., Pfizer, GSK, Vifor, GW Pharma, Verona Pharma, Helperby, Novartis, Unilever, Reckitt) which have led to the award of research grants, consultancy agreements, CASE studentships and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. We are committed in the IPS to facilitate the training of better scientists and clinicians and to encourage faster translation and adoption of the output of research and innovation in pharmaceutical sciences into practice. We already collaborate widely internationally and aim to ensure that IPS becomes the premier pharmaceutical science research and teaching institution inexorably bound to clinical practice in the UK and beyond.
An article on the activities of IPS have been published in the Public Service Review UK Science and Technology 02 (page 46).