Second Wellcome Drug Discovery award success23 Aug 2010, PR 178/10 Dr Jonathan Corcoran, Senior Research Fellow in the Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases at King’s, has received a second Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery award, valued at over £3.6 million over 42 months. Jonathan will lead a team to develop new drugs that can be taken orally to treat spinal cord injury (SCI).
The outcome for people who suffer a SCI is bleak as there are as yet no therapeutics available which can lead to re-growth of nerves and functional recovery. Dr Corcoran’s group has previously shown that one class of retinoid agonists, which are small molecules, can induce a programme of protein expression in injured nerves that leads to axonal outgrowth and functional recovery in rodent models.
Dr Corcoran and his team will carry out lead optimisation of a retinoid which will be used in a clinical trial of SCI in year three.
Dr Corcoran said, 'We have spent many years showing the utility of retinoids in axonal outgrowth and I am delighted that the Wellcome Trust have funded this research to take a small molecule from the bench all the way into the clinic.'
Dr Rick Davis, Business Development Manager at the Wellcome Trust said: 'We are pleased to support this project, which addresses an important area of unmet medical need and we hope will pave the way to a brighter future for patients with spinal chord injuries.'
The team includes Dr Barret Kalindjian who is a medicinal chemist already based in Dr Corcoran’s lab and Professor Thomas Carlstedt, a nerve surgeon affiliated to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who will carry out the clinical trial.
Early research for this project was part-funded by an award from the King’s Business Futures Fund, which allowed the team to demonstrate that one of the retinoids discovered was orally available. This finding was significant in ensuring the success of this application and reflects the aim of the fund; to stimulate the promotion and identification of King's innovation through research and to realise its full health and economic impact.
Dr Mike Shaw from King’s Business commented: 'We are delighted to have been able to support this excellent research both through the King’s Business Futures Fund and dedicated commercial support. We look forward to working with Dr Corcoran and the Wellcome Trust to develop and commercialise this molecule.'
Dr Corcoran’s first award, which has a year left to run, was for £3.1 million to develop small molecules for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The project has already generated intellectual property, which the Wellcome Trust, together with the team, are hoping to commercialise.
Image credit: Jurgen Ziewe/Wellcome ImagesNotes to editors King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education
2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,000 students (of whom more than 8,600 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 5,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
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