From Molecules to Medicine
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.
Molecules to Medicine's strategy is designed to capture and highlight the broad sweep of research at KCL ranging from pharmacological and chemical studies that can identify novel drug targets and new chemical entities, through formulation and drug development, to clinical trials and the use of medicines by patients. The all-embracing strategy is for researchers to work together towards the discovery of novel medicines and new formulations that can be evaluated in patients in the clinic.
To achieve this goal, and to provide focus, research activities are organised into three related themes: Drug Discovery, Medicines Development, and Medicines Use. Each of these themes includes clusters of research activity, some of which have evolved during the past decade (e.g., drug delivery, chemical biology, pharmaceutical biophysics, pharmacology), and some of which have joined KCL more recently such as enhanced activity in anticancer and anti-infective drug discovery, nanomedicines, substance abuse, health psychology, and clinical pharmacy. Researchers within and across the three themes interact both informally and via joint initiatives to promote cross-disciplinary research. For example, the drug delivery activities of Forbes, Jones and Daily, working closely with colleagues in pharmacology (Page/Spina) have led to consortium funding and several PhD studentships from the MRC to investigate the safety of nanoparticles in the airways.
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 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
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).