Boehringer Ingelheim and Dundee University have joined forces to develop a novel class of medicines that target disease causing proteins for degradation, potentially addressing areas where there remains unmet need.

The collaboration aims develop PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeric molecules (PROTACs) - a new therapeutic approach able to degrade proteins playing a central role in disease processes.

PROTACs are designed to harness the cell's natural disposal system to specifically remove disease causing proteins, by triggering the labelling of them as "expired" proteins, which the proteasome then removes.

According to the firms, they are anticipated to be broadly applicable to therapeutic areas as diverse as oncology, immunology and respiratory diseases, opening up opportunities to target disease mechanisms that have been difficult to reach with existing modalities.

"We believe our approach has the potential to fundamentally transform how we tackle protein targets to fight disease", said Alessio Ciulli, associate Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology at the University of Dundee. "This is a prime example of an industry-academia collaboration to establish a disruptive new approach to drug discovery, initially developed in academia, and to enable its translation all the way to benefit patients."

Further terms of the deal were not revealed.