COLLABORATION

Oxford drug discovery collaboration could revolutionise dementia care

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Oxford's disease experts are working with industry to develop a new kind of therapeutic in the fight against dementia.

A team of researchers in the UK will study the use of next-gen therapeutics on dementia patients in a pioneering research collaboration that aims to transform the treatment paradigm for sufferers.

The collaboration will see biotechnology company Bicycle Therapeutics team up with researchers from Oxford University’s Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ODDI) to use the former’s proprietary bicyclic peptide (Bicycle) technology for the development of novel therapeutics for dementia. 

The initiative is an expansion of Bicycle’s collaboration with the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) announced in May. The DDF is a £250 million specialist venture capital fund that invests in novel science for the treatment of dementia.

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Bicycle CEO Kevin Lee said the collaboration with ODDI could revolutionise dementia care and treatment. Bicycles, he pointed out, have shown to be “highly-selective and well-tolerated” and designed with the flexibility to vary drug payloads.

Bicyclic peptides, which are synthetic, highly constrained peptides, are known to have greater conformational rigidity and metabolic stability than linear and monocyclic peptides and are capable of binding to challenging drug targets with affinity and specificity.

“We believe these features can be combined to identify a broad central nervous system (CNS) drug delivery platform to send therapeutic payloads into the brain to treat neurological diseases,” Lee said in a media statement.

“We look forward to working with disease experts at ODDI, who understand the complex pathogenic disease mechanism underpinning dementia, and DDF to identify and develop a new kind of therapeutic in the fight against dementia.”

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For the collaboration, Bicycle will use its proprietary screening platform to identify Bicycles that bind to clinically-validated dementia targets. 

ODDI will then profile these Bicycles in a range of target-specific and disease-focused assays to determine their therapeutic potential. 

The agreement stipulates that should there be promising lead compounds identified, Bicycle Therapeutics will own the rights to the resulting intellectual property and, with DDF, will have the option of establishing a joint company to further develop the compounds.

ODDI Chief Scientific Officer Dr. John Davis said the collaboration is a natural extension of the institute’s focus on novel targets in the dementia therapeutic area. 

As the ODDI is one of three institutes within the Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Alliance, he said the facility understands the critical importance of industry-academia collaborations to accelerate new drug discoveries.

“Bicycle’s platform has demonstrated the potential to deliver novel, selective and potent binders to a broad range of diverse targets, for many of which traditional small molecule approaches have not been successful.

“We are excited to be collaborators in this important drug discovery project.”