MRCT looks east

Public funding roundup 2Q16

MRC Technology (MRCT) is broadening its reach to Asia with a new strategy that extends beyond the source and geography of its original mission to serve as the tech transfer arm of the U.K.'s Medical Research Council (MRC). The translational organization has partnered with the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IPS-CAS) to establish a center in Shanghai in part to tap into the local Pasteur's strength in infectious diseases.

The new organization - dubbed the IPS-MRCT Joint Centre for Therapeutic Antibodies - will perform preclinical research on antibody projects provided by the founding organizations.

MRCT, now a tech transfer charity separate from MRC, had moved beyond its initial tech transfer role several years ago when it expanded its activities to include accelerator-type wet lab projects that advance early discoveries emerging from research institutions to the point they could attract an industry partner. However, the organization says it now reviews more good projects than it can handle internally, and the new center is part of a wider re-think on how best to structure its activities.

MRCT CEO Dave Tapolczay told BioCentury full details of the charity's new strategy will be publicly unveiled in early 2017, but said the monetization of some royalty interest in Keytruda pembrolizumab allowed it to consider more collaborations inside and outside the U.K. "The breadth of life science research means there are always projects we don't have the capacity to take on. We can now progress more, which is why we are also talking to our partners."

Keytruda, which was originally developed in part by MRCT, is marketed for melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and is in registration for head and neck cancer by Merck & Co. Inc. and Taiho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

Zhi Zhang, manager of business development at MRCT, told BioCentury the new center is partly a way to solve logistical challenges. "Given the size of MRC Technology, our drug discovery capability is relatively small, so we can only deal with about 18 projects at a

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