SFI funds pharma partnership

19 Oct 2005

A University College Dublin (UCD) scientist involved in developing a pioneering drug-delivery system has been given an additional two-year grant by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to help commercialise his research.

Dr Cormac Taylor of the UCD Conway Institute has received an industry research supplement grant from the SFI. The funding will be used by Taylor’s laboratory in association with its industry research partner, Sigmoid Biotechnologies, to develop the new drug-delivery technology.

Dublin-based Sigmoid Biotechnologies has developed a system called LEDDS designed to improve the effectiveness, safety and convenience of existing drugs and enhance next-generation drug development. Complementing this, Taylor’s group has developed an innovative intestinal model of drug uptake, which predicts how efficiently a drug is absorbed into a patient’s bloodstream. The model will enable rapid screening of multiple LEDDS formulation and generate strong lead compounds for future clinical trials. The proposed project represents a strategic supplement to Taylor’s initial SFI Investigator Award.

Taylor commented: “The proposed collaboration is synergistic, providing my lab with a powerful research tool and Sigmoid Biotechnologies with method to screen its proprietary formulations. Going forward, the outcome of the proposed research is of further strategic importance as it can benefit from the proposed National Bioprocessing Plant at Belfield.”

Announcing the funding, Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin TD said: “The Taylor and Sigmoid Biotechnologies collaboration has the potential to generate innovative and powerful drug-delivery concepts, leading to improved patient care. It is a critical to the development of the knowledge-based economy that industry and academic researchers collaborate.”

Dr Ivan Coulter, CEO of Sigmoid Biotechnologies, said: “The clear synergies between the novel intestinal membrane model developed by Taylor’s group and Sigmoid has the potential to rapidly expedite and expand LEDDS capabilities. The research supplement grant represents the future model for industry-academia collaborations and will support not only existing indigenous biotech industry, but also spawn the creation of future Irish university spin-outs.”

Dr Maurice Treacy, director of BioSciences and BioEngineering at SFI, said the research project would greatly enhance Taylor’s existing SFI-funded research and noted the “very strong synergy” between the two parties involved.

By Brian Skelly