Mike Murphy awarded Government funding for drug development

Life-saving measures for patients have moved a step closer following the announcement of investments totalling over £30 million in emerging new treatments and technologies.

Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed today (21 November 2014) that Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) would deliver the new money through rounds five and six of the BioMedical Catalyst (BMC), part of the Government’s Life Sciences Strategy.

29 companies and universities from London to Edinburgh now have the funding they need to further develop new medicines, diagnostics or devices to tackle healthcare challenges ranging from cancer to childbirth complications. Projects supported include:

• ‘pH paper’ to prevent fatality through incorrect placement of feeding tubes (Edinburgh)
• Ozone-based device to decontaminate medical equipment (Glasgow)
• Dressings with embedded clotting agents which can be left in the body (Leeds)
• A bio-engineered ‘scaffold’ to repair injured tendons (Manchester)
• Novel drugs to reduce swelling and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis (London)
• Headband-mounted heart rate sensor to help resuscitate newborn babies (Derby)
• New gene therapy to tackle nerve and muscle degeneration of the fatal Huntington’s Disease (Oxford)
• A revolutionary ‘Gamma Camera’ to help diagnose and treat more cancers (Camberley, Surrey)
• Cell therapy to repair liver damage (Edinburgh)
• A drug that protects vital organs from damage following a heart attack (Cambridge)

Dr Mike Murphy from the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit and colleagues Dr Thomas Krieg (University of Cambridge) and Professor Raimondo Ascione (University of Bristol) will build on previous MRC funding to develop an experimental compound into a drug that could protect the vital organs from damage following a heart attack. Tests in mice have shown that the compound, called MitoSNO, protects heart tissue from reperfusion injury, which occurs when the blood supply to an organ is interrupted, for example by a blood clot. If the blood supply is restored the tissue can recover, but the sudden return of oxygen-rich blood leads to extensive tissue damage that worsens the long-term prognosis for the patient. All of the 100,000 people a year in the UK who suffer a heart attack will experience reperfusion injury, which is caused by the production of harmful molecules, called free radicals, by the heart cells. MitoSNO blocks the production of these free radicals, therefore protecting the tissue from damage. Early tests have shown that the compound is effective in mice, and the researchers will now fine-tune production of a drug that can be tested in pigs, before moving onto early human trials.

MRC press release: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/news-events/news/over-30m-committed-across-the-uk-f...