Queens University Belfast
In 2012 Almac Discovery and Queens University entered into a strategic collaboration designed to marry the research and clinical capabilities of the university with the medicinal chemistry and translational biology expertise of Almac Discovery. The initiative was supported by a £4.4M Invest Northern Ireland grant. In 2016, building upon this initial collaboration, The Center for Precision Therapeutics was established at Queen’s University, Belfast, which brought together a wealth of talent, experience and expertise from Almac Discovery scientists and Queens University researchers. The scientific focus is around the development of two platform areas: Deubiquitinase drug discovery, and establishment of a protein therapeutics platform based on small shark-derived proteins. The dedicated Center represents a substantial investment by Almac over a 3 year period, together with support from Invest Northern Ireland via the Grant for R&D Program. This Grant is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Program 2014-2020.
In 2016, Almac Discovery established a collaboration with Montreal based McGill University, working with Dr. Simon Wing, an endocrinologist and world expert in muscle wasting. The aim of the collaboration is to validate the therapeutic effects of Almac Discovery’s proprietary Ubiquitin Specific Protease 19 (USP19) in muscle wasting and other diseases. Ubiquitin Specific Proteases (USPs) are enzymes involved in removing small polypeptide ubiquitin adducts from proteins. These adducts act as signals and modify protein degradation, localization, cellular localization and interaction. As yet USPs have proven difficult to drug by conventional means, although they offer the potential to deliver First in Class therapeutics for a wide range of indications. Muscle wasting diseases represent a high level of unmet need in terms of burden on the health system, with only limited treatment options currently available.
In May 2016 Almac Discovery and the McClay Foundation announced a research collaboration with Ulster University to investigate the effects of a synthetic peptide (ALM201) on diseases of the eye. ALM201 is a fragment of a naturally occurring protein FKBP-L and has been shown to penetrate the eye after topical administration. Using state-of-the-art technologies, including gene editing, Ulster University’s Professor Tara Moore, an expert in ophthalmological conditions, and her team at Ulster University, will evaluate the therapeutic potential of ALM201 in the ocular setting and seek to understand, in detail, its mode of action.