Pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson Innovation have joined hands with three leading universities, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and University College London to support research for innovative medicines.

They will create a £40m fund called Apollo Therapeutics Fund, which will help in developing new medicines from the research conducted by the universities.

The three industry partners will invest £10m over six years to the project, while the universities have pledged to invest £3.3m each.

The fund is aimed at enhancing and facilitating a university research on new medicines to be administered on a comprehensive range of ailments as well as delivering a cost-efficient panacea.

Apollo Therapeutics investment committee chairman Dr Ian Tomlinson said: "Apollo provides an additional source of early stage funding that will allow more therapeutics projects within the three universities to realise their full potential.

"The active participation of the industry partners will also mean that projects will be shaped at a very early stage to optimise their suitability for further development.

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"The Apollo Therapeutics Fund should benefit the UK economy by increasing the potential for academic research to be translated into new medicines for patients the world over."

The research will encompass all therapy areas and modalities, including small molecules, peptides, proteins, antibodies, and cell and gene therapies.

This combined fund to support an early stage clinical research seeks to fortify an academic preclinical research to reach a stage when it can be utilised by one of the industry partners following an internal bidding process or be out-licensed.

The three industry partners will complement the research by offering research and development expertise and other resources to estimate the product’s commercial viability, hence ushering an all round development of the project.

Apollo Therapeutics Investment Committee (AIC) has appointed Dr Ian Tomlinson, former GSK Worldwide Business Development and Biopharmaceuticals R&D senior vice president and founder and chief scientific officer of Domantis as its chairman.

"The Apollo Therapeutics Fund should benefit the UK economy by increasing the potential for academic research to be translated into new medicines for patients theworld over."

The committee will comprise representatives from the six partners, with AIC assuming the responsibility for all investment decisions.

Following a successful project, the originating university and TTO will be awarded a percentage of future commercial revenues or out-licensing fees and the rest will be shared among the Apollo partners.

The AIC will be monitored and advised by an independent Drug Discovery Team (DDT) of ex-industry scientists assigned by Apollo to work in tandem with the universities and their TTOs towards the development of the project.

Apollo will be based at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst.

Image: A clinical research in progress in UCL. Photo: courtesy of UCL.