A wide range of compounds will be made available free of charge to UK medical researchers next year, following an agreement between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and AstraZeneca. Academia will be granted access to 22 compounds, developed by AstraZeneca. Through MRC funding, UK academia will conduct studies to better understand what drives a range of diseases with a view to exploring new treatment opportunities.
As part of the collaboration with AstraZeneca, the MRC is inviting research proposals from across the UK academic community to use the compounds in new areas. The MRC will judge and select the best scientific proposals, and award up to £10 million in total to fund research across a broad range of human diseases.
David Brennan, AstraZeneca's chief executive officer said: "Innovative collaborations are playing a crucial role in finding ways to unlock the potential of new treatments. The UK has a strong heritage of research excellence in life sciences. We hope that in sharing these valuable compounds with academic scientists through the MRC, new discoveries will be made by exploring additional uses of these compounds."
The rights to intellectual property (IP) generated using the compounds will vary from project to project but will be equitable and similar to those currently used in academically-led research. AstraZeneca will retain rights over the chemical composition of the compounds, which have taken millions of pounds to develop so far, and any new research findings will be owned by the academic institution.
A two-stage process will be used to identify projects that are feasible, do not duplicate existing studies and do not directly contribute to AstraZeneca development programs. Any potential projects which duplicate or overlap AstraZeneca's active development programmes will not be eligible for MRC funding, but the company may choose to work with the researchers directly.