New protein degradation centre to lead drug discovery revolution

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A new research centre will bolster the University of Dundee’s world-leading position in a field of chemical biology that is revolutionising drug discovery.

The Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) will be housed at the Technopole site adjacent to Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, with a fundraising target of £5 million being met by a mixture of public and private sources as well as University funds.

The existing two-storey building will be fitted out with state-of-the-art facilities to allow Professor Alessio Ciulli and colleagues to expand their pioneering work in an area that has attracted billions of pounds of investment globally in the last five years.

Targeted protein degradation co-opts the cell’s natural disposal systems to remove disease-causing proteins and is applicable to diverse therapeutic areas including oncology, dermatology, immunology and respiratory diseases.

As an entirely new approach, it provides hope of treating diseases previously thought to be undruggable. The first degrader drugs of these kind are advancing in clinical trials against cancer.

New protein degradation centre to lead drug discovery revolution - Research News
Pictured: An external shot of the current CeTPD

Professor Ciulli has revealed fundamental insights into the working of the degrader molecules that he designed and that are used across the globe.

These and other discoveries have led to significant collaborations with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Amphista Therapeutics, the University spin out he founded, last month received a near-£40 million investment to further its work developing new drugs for a range of diseases.

Targeted protein degradation is one of the most exciting areas of scientific study to have emerged in many years, one which is revolutionising drug development,” said Professor Ciulli.

Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said, “This development is pivotal to our ambition for Dundee to establish itself not just as a great place for scientific discovery which subsequently drives economic growth elsewhere but also as a leading location for us to grow the businesses we spin out and to create a vibrant bio-cluster here in Tayside.

Work to fit out the Centre is already underway and is expected to be completed by early 2022.