Edinburgh-based startup awarded $2.3m Gates Foundation grant to accelerate global health drug discovery

21/02/2024

EDINBURGH-based PhaSER Biomedical (PhaSER) has received a grant totalling $2.3m to continue its pioneering work in accelerating drug discovery and development from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. PhaSER will provide 8HUM transgenic mouse models, humanised for key pathways involved in the metabolism and disposition of drugs, to all the foundation grantees.

These models recapitulate the ways drugs are metabolised in humans and have multiple applications in drug discovery and development: including drug efficacy, the prediction of drug/drug interactions and the more informed design of clinical trials. 8HUM models will accelerate the discovery and development of new treatments of disease, reduce attrition when drugs reach the clinic as well as reduce animal use and development costs.

The three-year programme will make the PhaSER technology a collaborating institution within the Global Health Discovery Collaboratory Programme, which is funded by the Gates Foundation. This will provide collaborating researchers who are involved in combatting diseases such as Malaria, TB, HIV, pandemic preparedness, and non-hormonal contraception with access to this powerful drug discovery and development platform.

PhaSER was formed in October 2022 to exploit a unique transgenic mouse model developed in a collaboration between Prof. Roland Wolf at University of Dundee, CXR biosciences, Taconic Farms and Scottish Enterprise.

The 8HUM model has been extensively characterised and validated over the course of 15 years research and has demonstrated its power in addressing common drug discovery and development challenges. One example is that the model can circumvent the difficulties in demonstrating in vivo drug efficacy which arise because of mouse specific metabolism issues. A key stage of compound progression. 

The humanised model has the potential to transform drug discovery by significantly reducing drug discovery and development times, increasing the probability of delivering safe and efficacious drugs to patients across the globe.

Professor Roland Wolf, PhaSER’s Founder, commented:

“We are delighted to receive this support from the Gates Foundation, which will allow us to provide these valuable mice to drug discovery groups working on some of the most pressing global health care challenges we are faced with today.  We look forward to continuing our work to accelerate and improve drug discovery activities.”

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