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AstraZeneca : University of Gothenburg new hub for the development of the drugs of the future

03/02/2021 | 05:15am

In recent years, techniques have been developed for treating diseases with so-called oligonucleotide drugs, based on short DNA or RNA molecules.

The Wallenberg Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine at the University of Gothenburg is now awarded SEK 54 million from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and SEK 48 million from SciLifeLab and the University of Gothenburg, to create a national technology platform in the area - OligoNova Hub.

The rapid development of oligonucleotide drugs depends, among other things, on the detailed knowledge we have gained about the human genome and how changes in it can give rise to disease. This knowledge makes it possible to quickly implement the first steps in the development of new oligonucleotide drugs with a computer, says Agneta Holmang, dean of the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

In addition to funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW) and other actors, the investment is made possible by AstraZeneca in Molndal contributing unique knowledge and guidance when the OligoNova Hub is built. The initiative takes place in collaboration with SciLifeLab, a national research center for molecular life sciences. OligoNova Hub will in future be part of SciLifeLab's drug development platform.

We are happy and proud of the opportunity to build this hub, which gives researchers access to cutting-edge technologies and the opportunity for further development of their results. I would also like to emphasize that none of this would have been possible without strong cooperation both within the university and with a number of partners. This is really a project where KAW and many other good forces have collaborated, says Eva Wiberg, Rector of the University of Gothenburg.

Potential for more effective treatment methods

There are today examples of oligonucleotide drugs, which have been developed in just a few years. This can be compared with traditional drug development, where it takes at least five years before new drugs reach patients. With the platform that is now being built up, Swedish researchers will be able to further develop their academic discoveries towards new drugs. The hope is that this will lead to more effective treatment methods as well as future companies in a rapidly expanding part of the life science area.

Although the first oligonucleotide drugs were developed to treat unusual, genetic diseases, we now also see a rapid development of new therapies for larger disease groups. For example, the EU recently approved the new oligonucleotide drug inklisiran, which is used to lower cholesterol, says Claes Gustafsson, professor of medical chemistry at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

OligoNova Hub will be linked to a larger network for research and development of oligonucleotide drugs, which is being established through a national collaboration with, among others, the University of Gothenburg and AstraZeneca. During the build-up phase 2020/2021, this initiative is financed by Vinnova through the strategic innovation program Swelife.

Other information

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation The foundation

mainly supports basic research in medicine, technology and science. The foundation currently distributes almost SEK 2 billion annually and is one of Europe's largest private research funders.

SciLifeLab (Science for Life Laboratory)

Started in 2010 jointly by the four host universities Karolinska Institutet, KTH, Stockholm University and Uppsala University. In 2013, SciLifeLab was designated a national research infrastructure and today has operations at most major Swedish universities.

(C) 2021 Electronic News Publishing, source ENP Newswire

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