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Press releases

Five Years of Reshaping Drug Discovery

Medicines Discovery Catapult

4 min read Partner content

Medicines Discovery Catapult Marks Milestone Anniversary.

April 2023 marks five years since Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC), an independent, not-for-profit national innovation centre for drug discovery, began actively reshaping drug discovery for patient benefit. Established by Innovate UK as part of the Catapult Network, MDC's vision and delivery rapidly positioned it as a valuable life science resource.

To mark this milestone, MDC has launched an impact showcase site, offering a detailed insight into a selection of its work through its collaborations and initiatives across the life sciences sector, which is among the most valuable and strategically important to the UK economy. It is critical to the country's health, wealth, and resilience and can improve patient outcomes and deliver high-tech industry growth in every corner of the UK.

From their base in Cheshire, MDC transforms great UK science into better treatments through partnerships. It has delivered over 230 projects with over 170 partners across the UK - helping UK companies raise over £600m in private funding, launching pioneering patient-centred R&D syndicates and driving the successful adoption of new imaging and biomarker-based technologies that make drug discovery more productive.

MDC graphic

MDC can deliver critical elements of the Government's Life Sciences Vision, contributing to the Levelling Up from their base in the North West and contributing towards Innovate UK's Strategic Delivery Plan by helping create a thriving UK drug discovery sector. 

Since its inaugural State of Discovery Nation report in 2018, MDC has also played a key role in leading the conversation with the drug discovery sector - producing reports, guides and roundtable discussions with industry leaders that provide critical commentary and guidance.

With a team of over 130 specialists and cutting-edge laboratory facilities, MDC has nurtured growth within this strategic sector over the past five years. It has done this by deploying its industry-class lab skills, national disease-specific consortia, and advanced pre-market technologies to help UK biotechs be more productive in their R&D.

MDC was also called upon to deploy its industry-scale experience to co-ordinate the largest diagnostics laboratory testing project in UK history during the pandemic - the UK Lighthouse Lab Network, which performed 98% of the UK government's Covid-19 PCR testing during the pandemic.

MDC's impact showcase site highlights a selection of these projects, and in celebration of their 5th anniversary MDC is also running a 'Five in Five' social media campaign showcasing five of MDC's most impactful collaborations, including:

  • Alchemab: Harnessing the power of naturally protective antibodies to support the development of a novel disease-modifying antibody therapy for Huntington's disease
  • Lunac: Developing a first-in-class anticoagulant treatment to prevent the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel (thrombosis)
  • N4 Pharma: Developing a new drug delivery system for vaccines and cancer treatments
  • Data-Driven Drug Discovery: Fuelling the Data Engine of Innovation in Healthcare
  • Psychiatry Consortium: Strategic collaboration of leading medical research charities and pharmaceutical companies focusing on the challenge of identifying and validating novel drug targets to address the unmet therapeutic needs of people living with mental health conditions

Dr Nicola Heron, Chief Strategic Impact Officer at Medicines Discovery Catapult, said:

"MDC's breadth of impact throughout our first five years is far-reaching and a testament to the skill and determination of our strong team of specialists. They have worked tirelessly to identify and address the barriers faced by our drug discovery innovators, delivering over 230 projects with 170 organisations across the UK, leveraging over £0.6 billion investment into the sector, creating world-class consortia in areas of critical patient need, providing international thought leadership and stepping up during a time of national crisis."

Professor Chris Molloy, Chief Executive Officer at Medicines Discovery Catapult, said:

"The MDC team have exceeded the impact we promised our community in 2017 and served the nation selflessly through the pandemic. We all work for others and are pleased to see that work reflected in the success of our partners: in their subsequent fundraising, their high-value licensing deals and their development of new drugs and marketed technologies. We also see it in the hundreds of early career scientists trained and in high-value jobs and in the success of our patient-centred multinational R&D collaborations.

"Our first five years have been committed to our community and the national programmes we have been entrusted with. We are now being asked to extend our help into managing national technology deployments, mapping the path for the development of more precision medicines, supporting early-stage clinical trials and attracting early-stage funding for high-risk, high-return companies. We shall do this with the same purposeful focus as ever, with momentum, experience and unceasing determination to deliver upon our vision of reshaping drug discovery for patient benefit."

You can find out more about MDC's Impact here.

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