21 November, 2017
In 2015 we were very fortunate to receive an award from the Babraham Research Campus Collaboration Fund (BRCCF). The BRCCF is a funding scheme supported by the Babraham Institute that seeks to promote collaborations between BI science groups and Biotech companies based on the Campus. This award supported a collaboration between my lab, headed by Dr Simon Cook (BI Signalling Programme) and PhoreMost, a company based on campus. The proposal was to provide a ‘proof of concept’ for a novel screen that would use PhoreMost’s proprietary technology to uncover unique inhibitors of intracellular signalling pathways. Our laboratory’s main focus is in understanding the role of signalling cascades in cell survival and proliferation. We extensively use pharmacological inhibitors to address the roles of kinases within these pathways, so it seemed like a perfect partnership; the company can provide interesting and novel inhibitors and we have the experience to be able to test these.
Since the initial proof of concept study, the collaboration has continued and gone from strength to strength. We successfully established and validated a stable cell line that allows signalling pathways, when activated, to drive the expression of certain phenotypes. This can be used as a cell based assay that can now be applied to PhoreMost’s unique drug discovery platform.
Having worked in academia for well over 20 years it was really interesting and a great opportunity to work with an industrial partner. I have thoroughly enjoyed the project being able to draw from expertise and resources in both labs. Everyone in PhoreMost has been helpful and friendly, teaching me how to perform certain assays, being generous with advice and time and equally listening to, and incorporating, my own ideas into the project.
On the strength of this initial collaboration, PhoreMost were successful in applying for a £0.6M grant from Innovate UK, with the Cook lab at BI as collaborators. This has meant we have been able to recruit a research assistant, Megan Cassidy, who is helping to fine tune this assay and design and construct a novel and potentially marketable cell-based assay for measuring intracellular signalling pathways. I have thoroughly enjoyed supervising Megan and it has also been rewarding to see the development of the project from an initial idea to a ‘proof of concept’ and soon to a screen.
This experience is just one of several collaborations that BI have with Babraham Research Campus (BRC) companies, but I’m very proud to be part of this initial round of BRCCF projects. The links between BI and BRC companies are important to Institute researchers like me, as they help develop an understanding of the opportunities and demands of the commercial bioscience sector.
If you would like to find out more about our Industrial partnerships or if you would like to find out how you can collaborate with Babraham Institute, please contact email@example.com.
21 November 2017
By Rebecca Gilley