Strathclyde partners in new Intracellular Drug Delivery Centre

Foil packets containing multi-coloured medicine capsules

Innovation organisation CPI is establishing a brand-new Intracellular Drug Delivery Centre in partnership with Medicines Discovery Catapult, the University of Strathclyde, the University of Liverpool and Imperial College London to help develop novel drug delivery technologies and support promising RNA vaccines and therapeutics.

Funded by Innovate UK’s Transforming Medicines Manufacturing programme, with a grant of £10 million over three years, the Centre will provide a single point of entry for drug discovery and development innovators to access new capabilities in intracellular drug delivery.

The partnership is the first-of-its-kind in the UK and will investigate and develop new lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulations for the delivery of RNA medicine, and a framework to develop next-generation nano delivery systems.

The Centre will help predict the stability, efficacy, performance and any potential adverse reactions of RNA vaccines and therapeutics. This will help unlock the potential of RNA-based medicines, creating greater access to cutting-edge, cost-effective vaccines and therapeutics for the benefit of patients.

New capabilities

Professor Yvonne Perrie, Head of Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, said: “This Centre will provide new capabilities for mRNA-based drug development and manufacture of cost-effective vaccines and therapeutics in the UK, boosting not only economic growth but also security of supply. We are delighted to be involved in this exciting new initiative alongside our partners.”

Dr Juliana Haggerty, Head of Intracellular Drug Discovery Centre at CPI, said: “We’re excited to be leading this novel partnership, bringing together leading experts in intracellular drug delivery. This unique collaboration can provide the industry with unparalleled access to cutting-edge technologies to accelerate drug design, development, characterisation, and manufacture.

The new Centre will make it easier for industry to access expertise in this important sector. 

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the enormous potential of nucleic acids – the building blocks of mRNA vaccines; but significant innovation is needed to develop new nucleic-acid-based therapies, understand how they work in the body, and improve manufacturing processes.

Promote access

Industry needs novel drug delivery systems, such as LNPs, to support and complement RNA therapeutic developments. Current LNP systems are expensive to access, so identifying novel, cost-effective alternative delivery methods will promote access to nucleic-acid-based vaccines and therapeutics not just in the UK, but around the world. 

This new Centre will provide industry with the much-needed infrastructure to address these challenges and will build on the outstanding expertise and know-how of all partners. This will also attract inward investment and promote resilience and sustainable growth in the UK healthcare ecosystem, meeting key Transforming Medicines Manufacturing programme objectives.

There will also be a strong emphasis on training and developing the future workforce through courses and network building for early-career researchers. 

The funding will cover additional state-of-the-art equipment at CPI’s facilities in Sedgefield in the North East of England, along with complementary capability development for its partners. 

Sarah Goulding, Executive Director, Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said: “Our vision is to enable people to live longer, healthier lives and drive economic growth in the health and life sciences sector through innovation. Nucleic-acid-based therapies and vaccines have emerged as exciting new medicines, and developing innovative formulations is a key step to addressing unmet medical needs for patients. Innovate UK is investing in this collaboration to drive and de-risk novel technology to improve the targeted delivery of novel medicines, building a leading UK capability for this sector.”