MRC Technology, Belgian drugmaker UCB and the University of Leicester have set up a new research consortium focusing on antibody-assisted structure-based drug discovery.

The consortium will use antibodies to seek out and characterise new regulatory or allosteric sites on therapeutic target proteins, in order to stabilise functionally important protein conformational states and characterise key structural features of complexes formed with activity modulating antibodies.

This findings will then be exploited to guide the discovery and design of novel small molecule therapeutics, addressing unmet clinical needs and delivering significant benefits for patients, the groups said.

"This exciting new venture brings together a world-leading combination of translational research scientists and by combining the expertise and knowledge available in the public and private sectors provides a tremendous opportunity to pioneer antibody-assisted drug discovery," commented Mark Carr, Professor of Biochemistry, Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology. "The potential economic and healthcare benefits for the UK are substantial."

"Our capabilities in both antibody and small molecule drug discovery leave us ideally placed to help drive this new technology towards the clinic. Collaborating with UCB and the University of Leicester will undoubtedly help us achieve our ambition in this field," said Justin Bryans, director, Drug Discovery at MRC Technology.

"UCB sees partnerships as fundamental to our success as the complexities of treating severe diseases are beyond the expertise and resource of a single organisation," added Alistair Henry, senior director of Biological Spectroscopy at UCB. "Collaborating with MRC Technology and the University of Leicester to combine our expertise to open up new treatment opportunities through Antibody-Assisted Structure-Based Drug Discovery is a very exciting new venture."