Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and UniQuest have formed an “open innovation” program to support academic and clinical research that holds the promise of finding new uses for previously-studied compounds.

Successful proposals submitted by UQ researchers will be jointly funded by UniQuest and AstraZeneca.

Dr Ajay Gautam, AstraZeneca’s Executive Director, Scientific Partnering and Alliances for Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets, said the program will focus on drug repositioning – finding new uses for AstraZeneca’s previously-studied compounds. “By giving globally leading academic research institutions such as UQ access to our compounds and expertise, we are opening doors to unexplored areas of pre-clinical and clinical research to help find the next generation of medical breakthroughs,” Dr Gautam said.

Dr Dean Moss, chief executive officer of UniQuest – The University of Queensland’s research commercialisation company – said the collaboration would give UQ clinical and scientific researchers access to high-quality AstraZeneca compounds to investigate mechanisms of human disease and to reposition them towards AstraZeneca’s core therapeutic areas.

“The collaboration will help foster medical innovation by bringing together complementary skills,” Dr Moss said.

“UQ brings to the collaboration academic and clinician innovators who can bring new biological insights to the repositioning of AstraZeneca’s existing small molecule compounds to new areas of high unmet medical need.

“AstraZeneca brings a proven track record in global drug discovery and development.

“UniQuest is delighted that AstraZeneca turned to UniQuest as its partner in Asia-Pacific. It follows AstraZeneca’s earlier open innovation drug repurposing partnerships with the Medical Research Council in the UK and the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in the US.”

Dr Moss said the program would support UniQuest’s strategy of fostering research commercialisation through industry engagement. It was also expected to profoundly improve healthcare and benefit for patients.

“Through the program, AstraZeneca will have the opportunity to deeply engage with UQ researchers and their projects,” Dr Moss said.

“This initiative is another important step in the new era of medical discovery via open innovation and public-private collaboration.”

AstraZeneca’s core therapeutic areas are cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience disease.

The deal was lead at UniQuest by Dr Craig Belcher and Dr Mark Ashton.

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