An inaugural symposium on 11 March will highlight the recent formation of the UK Drug Discovery Consortium (UKDDC ), set up by six non-industry research organisations to generate drug leads and candidates that can be taken into the clinic with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies or through other forms of public-private partnership.

The symposium in central London will address the topic, ‘21st Century Drug Discovery – a new approach’. The consortium members hope it will generate awareness of the UKDDC so that “academic scientists know where to come for help in developing their products and pharmaceutical companies realise the wealth of great new drug ideas arising from UK science that they might wish to champion into the clinic”.

The aim of the Drug Discovery Consortium is to improve human health through the discovery and development of novel small-molecule therapeutics, taking biological targets from basic research into drug discovery, with the ultimate goal of creating new drugs that target unmet needs.

The broader objectives are to raise the profile of non-industry based drug discovery in the UK; provide education and training for building integrated drug discovery operations in academic settings; exchange knowledge and know-how between the consortium members; and to give those members access to specialised resources in a cost-effective manner.

The founding UKDDC members are the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at the Institute of Cancer Research; Cancer Research Technology; Imperial College London; the Drug Discovery Group at MRC Technology (the exclusive commercialisation agent for the Medical Research Council); the Wellcome Trust; and the Drug Discovery Unit at the University of Dundee.

“It is clear that new drugs are needed for a wide range of diseases,” the consortium said. “Many potential groundbreaking treatments from academic laboratories never see the light of day owing to lack of resources and access to the necessary tools to turn a great idea into a clinical reality.”