On our annual Parliament Day on 30 January, the BIA jointly held with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) a Parliamentary lunch hosted by Iain Wright MP, the Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, showcasing the importance of collaborations between medical research charities and bioscience companies.

The lunch – which brought together over 60 senior representatives from bioscience companies and medical research charities, as well as Parliamentarians and civil servants – was an opportunity for networking and identifying potential collaborations as well as a chance to highlight to policymakers the importance of working collaboratively to improve medical research output.

Four case studies of recent successful partnerships between charities and industry were showcased at the event on banners and in an accompanying booklet. In his opening speech, Iain Wright MP welcomed the guests and talked passionately about the opportunities for both bioscience companies and research charities working together to address unmet medical needs.

Steve Bates, Chief Executive Officer of the BIA, pointed out that in the UK we are incredibly fortunate in having the most generous public in Europe when it comes to charitable donations for medical research. He encouraged attendees to take inspiration from the showcased examples and to make the contacts that will foster the new collaborations that patients will have cause to celebrate in the coming years.

Sharmila Nebhrajani, Chief Executive of AMRC, spoke of the importance of working together to speed up the development of new treatments, improve existing treatments and produce better health outcomes. You can see the AMRC’s blog post about making research everyone’s business here.

Finally we were also delighted to hear from Michelle Acton, Chief Executive Officer of our charity of the year Fight for Sight, on just what these types of collaborations mean to patients with sight conditions.

The four case studies at the event represent different types of collaborative partnerships in the sector:

  • NovaBiotics and Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Collaboration with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has accelerated clinical development of NovaBiotics’ treatment Lynovex, which has the potential to be an effective, safe, long-term therapy  for persistent lung infection in cystic fibrosis. Aberdeen Cystic Fibrosis Patient Group helped to create the strategic alliance and the clinical research is being conducted in partnership with Aberdeen University and NHS Grampian.

  • Summit and Muscular Dystrophy Campaign

Research at Oxford University in partnership with Summit and funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, has led to the development of SMT C1100, a treatment that could slow or even stop the muscle-wasting disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. In 2013, Summit was awarded £2.4 million from the Biomedical Catalyst and the funds leveraged by that award will be used to advance SMT C1100 into Phase II proof of concept trials.

  • Spirogen, MedImmune, Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology

Spirogen originated as a university spin-out company using antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology, and was supported in terms of funding, intellectual property and identification of cancer targets by Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology. In 2013 MedImmune acquired Spirogen; MedImmune hope to accelerate ADCs into clinical development and, completing this virtuous funding lifecycle, Cancer Research UK are expected to receive several million pounds as a result of the deal.

  • Medical Research Council Technology and Alzheimer’s Research UK

The £3 million Dementia Consortium unites the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK with life science technology experts MRC Technology and pharmaceutical companies Lilly and Eisai. The Consortium hopes to expedite the search for new dementia treatments by closing the gap between fundamental academic research and the biopharmaceutical industry’s drug discovery programmes.