Isis Innovation: supporting drug discovery at the University of Oxford

As part of MedChemNet's March focus on the role of Technology Transfer Offices in academic drug discovery, I discuss the work we do at Isis Innovation

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Isis Innovation, as the University of Oxford’s technology transfer office, benefits from an environment in Oxford that is increasingly conducive to drug discovery.

The combination of broad academic excellence in developing new insights into druggable biological pathways, a world-leading chemistry resource and diverse clinical expertise is now complemented by innovative initiatives such as the new Target Discovery Institute and the ChemBioHub; the latter identifying the right biological models to test novel compounds, undertaking chemical optimisation of screening hits, and finding equipment to run new assays.

Isis Innovation helps academics access translational funding support both from its internal resources (such as the University Challenge Seed Fund), and from external funders (MRC Confidence in Concept and Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery schemes). Specific drug discovery support also comes from the Oxford-Harrington Scholarships, which were launched to support clinical academic researchers engaged in patient care and drug discovery research, and which provide tailored support from pharmaceutical industry experts.

The fruits of these schemes are seen in the licensing deals and spin outs completed through Isis Innovation, which in the last 6 months include iOx (an immuno-oncology company developing NK-T cell agonists), Xerion (doped titanium nanoparticle cancer therapies) and ORBIT (a therapeutic peptide discovery platform company). In addition, a new medical incubator facility - the BioEscalator – will help nurture new drug discovery ventures when it opens in 2017.

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Adam Stoten

Head of Technology Transfer, Life Sciences, Isis Innovation Ltd

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