A landmark agreement between the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and AstraZeneca will allow researchers access to a number of high potential compounds.

Through MRC funding, UK academia will conduct studies on 22 compounds to help understand the secrets behind a range of diseases.

As part of the collaboration, the MRC is also inviting research proposals from across the academic community to use the compounds in new areas.

The MRC will then judge and select the best scientific proposals, and award up to £10 million to fund the research across a broad range of human diseases.

Sir John Savill, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said the collaboration marks a new era in medical discovery, open innovation and public-private collaboration.

David Willetts, minister for Universities and Science, echoed the statement saying the landmark agreement will keep the UK at the forefront of biomedical research, as well as drive growth and innovation in the UK’s life sciences industry.

The rights to intellectual property generated using the compounds are based on the project, but the MRC believes they will be similar to those currently used in academically-led research.

AstraZeneca will retain rights over the chemical composition of the compounds.