Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, has announced that six academic research projects have been selected for support under its open innovation challenge in neurodegenerative disease.

Covering a range of approaches to tracking, diagnosing and treating disorders, the successful applications came from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester, as well as UCL and Imperial College London.They were selected on the basis of a range of criteria, including impact potential, the level of innovation and opportunities for collaboration. Recognising the need for new approaches to tackle diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, SBC worked with MIMIT1 and the universities’ Academic Health Science Centre Technology Transfer Organisations to develop the scheme, which was launched last year. It is designed to provide small amounts of funding to kick-start research and is supported by Astex Pharmaceuticals, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Eli Lilly, GE Healthcare Life Sciences and GSK, who are also contributing their extensive expertise.

This will be invaluable to the selected projects, which focus on biomarkers for diagnosis and stratification, and the role of inflammation in neurodegeneration. Ray Hill, President Emeritus, British Pharmacological Society & Chair of the OI Challenge Review Panel, said: “Everyone on the panel was impressed by the quality and breadth of the project proposals submitted for review by the academic researchers. It’s great to see exciting new approaches to neurodegenerative disease being generated by the UK’s strong science base, with the SBC open innovation challenge providing vital support for further investigation.” Martino Picardo, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, said: “We’re delighted to have concluded successfully the initial step in our initiative to bring benefit to neurodegenerative disease patients through open innovation – hopefully the first of many such schemes. Bringing together a diverse range of players is vital for driving innovation.”

More action needed

More Britons than ever are aware of the links between lifestyle and cancer risk but many of them are not making the necessary changes in their lifestyle, according to research by the World Cancer Research Fund. The Fund is urging government, charities and health professionals to do more to support people in making healthier lifestyle choices.

Can register prevent asthma deaths?

Researcher Dr Andrew Wilson, from the University of East Anglia, has been awarded £1.7million from the National Institute for Health Research to allow the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research to identify people most at risk of an attack. Three people die of asthma every day in the UK and research suggests that two thirds of the deaths could be avoided. Dr Wilson’s research will examine whether introducing a register of people at risk  and offering specialist support 
will help.

Device helps control blood pressure

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