Stevenage-based Apollo was established in January 2016 by AstraZeneca – now headquartered in Cambridge – GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the technology transfer offices of Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Cambridge.
It supports the translation of ground-breaking academic science from within these universities into innovative new drug discovery programmes and potential new medicines for a broad range of diseases.
After evaluating initial opportunities across all three universities, Apollo has approved funding for and launched its first four drug discovery projects:-
1 – A small molecule discovery programme to treat alpha1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder affecting the lungs and liver, with Dr Ravi Mahadeva, University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital
2 – A cell therapy for the treatment of retinal degeneration, which is a major cause of vision loss and blindness, with Prof Astrid Limb and Prof Sir Peng Khaw at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
3 – A small and large molecule discovery programme for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, a condition affecting the cardiovascular system, with Prof Martin Wilkins and Prof Lan Zhao, Imperial College London
4 – A project to enhance the efficacy and persistence of autologous and in vivo T-cell therapies, with Prof Randall Johnson, University of Cambridge
Apollo says these initial projects represent novel and compelling drug discovery projects, emerging from academic research in areas of high medical need for which Apollo’s drug discovery team saw a clear route to value creation.
A total of £8.5m has been committed in milestoned project plans.Two further projects are currently being finalised, with multiple others in the evaluation process across all three academic institutions.
Apollo says its collaborative model is working well with its technology transfer partners – Cambridge Enterprise, Touchstone Innovations (formerly Imperial Innovations) and UCL Business – providing valuable support in sourcing opportunities from within their respective academic institutions. Industry partners AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson Innovation are also contributing both expertise and internal resources to enable project evaluation and execution.
Dr Richard Butt, CEO of Apollo Therapeutics, said: “The diversity of these four initial projects illustrates the breadth and quality of opportunity we are seeing from our partner universities, both in disease area and therapeutic modality.
“The participation and support of all six partners is excellent, in the spirit of this collaborative venture and the unique Apollo model.”