QUB partners with US biotech to create cancer treatments

12 Apr 2023

Image: © rachaphak/Stock.adobe.com

Aviceda Therapeutics has teamed up with QUB researchers to create next-generation therapeutics that utilise the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

A new partnership between Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and a US biotech aims to harness the power of the immune system to create new therapies for cancer.

Aviceda Therapeutics has created a nanotechnology platform called Halos that harnesses the power of glycobiology – the study of carbohydrates or glycans – to modulate the innate immune system.

The company has teamed up with the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at QUB to spearhead the development of glyco-immune therapeutics, with a focus on immuno-oncology. This involves utilising the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

Aviceda said its Halos technology was developed thanks to collaborative research conducted on the island of Ireland.

The tech is based on research from a team led by Prof Chris Scott, the chief scientific officer of Aviceda and the interim dean of research, faculty of medicine, health, and life sciences at QUB.

Scott said the partnership is a “testament to collaboration across the island of Ireland and the US”.

“It shows the potential of Northern Ireland to become an internationally renowned life and health science hub, aligning with Belfast Region City Deal investments in data science and clinical trial provision and the All-Island Cancer Research Institute,” Scott said.

“These developments are essential cogs in an ecosystem that will drive the discoveries we make in our laboratories into treatments that can alleviate suffering of patients worldwide.”

Aviceda co-founder, president and CEO, Dr Mohamed Genead, said it is “critical” that the biotech industry and academic institutions work together to accelerate drug development for “diseases with significant unmet medical needs”.

Genead added that QUB is an “ideal partner with a substantial track record in innovation”.

“We are excited to work with the Queen’s team in realising our vision of developing next generation glyco-therapeutics together,” Genead said.

Last year, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast discovered how a molecular pathway that is essential for brain development can also result in the spread of cancer through the body. It is hoped further research into this “Jekyll and Hyde protein” will lead to earlier cancer diagnosis and better treatment.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic