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New Dundee Research Collaboration to Evaluate Drug Safety Risks Early

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CXR Biosciences Ltd. announces a major new £3 million collaborative research and development program aimed at predicting the safety risks of new drugs earlier in their development.

The three-year project is a collaboration between CXR Biosciences, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and the University of Dundee and is co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board. An important feature is that this collaboration aims to take the results of industrial and academic laboratory research directly into clinical practice.

A team of scientists at CXR Biosciences headed by Professor Roland Wolf will work with Wyeth scientists and core lab staff based at the new Translational Medicine Research Centre (TMRC) in Dundee.

The University of Dundee is also part of the collaboration involving the research group of Professor Mike Ferguson at the College of Life Sciences, and clinical researchers Dr. John Dillon and Professor Andrew Morris at the School of Medicine.

The scientists will identify ‘biomarker’ proteins whose presence in the blood indicates the very earliest effects of a drug that could eventually lead to toxic damage in organs such as the liver, heart or muscle. The researchers will then develop assays to measure circulating levels of these biomarkers to allow the early evaluation of the possible toxic effects of new drugs before side effects develop. The tests could also be useful in the diagnosis of certain types of disease.

The assays will be used in the laboratory to identify drug candidates that present too high a safety risk to be advanced into clinical trials. They will also be used in the clinic to give warning of drugs that could cause harm if treatment were to be continued or if the dose level were to be increased.

Professor Roland Wolf, co-founder of CXR Biosciences said: “This is an extremely exciting programme of work linking academic research with a biotechnology company and a major pharmaceuticals company. It is unique in such drug safety programmes in taking the science all the way from the laboratory to the clinic."

Professor Mike Ferguson from the University of Dundee said: “We are very pleased to contribute our expertise in the technology of ‘proteomics’ to this important programme. It is particularly satisfying to collaborate with clinicians and scientists from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries in a truly multi-disciplinary study that will lead to safer medicines for patients."