Ground-breaking Dundee Uni research centre to create skilled jobs and more spinouts

The University of Dundee’s reputation in the field of biotechnology is set for a boost with the launch of a research centre that will help create dozens of skilled jobs.

The Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) will be housed at the Technopole site adjacent to the School of Life Sciences, with a fundraising target of £5 million being met by a mixture of public and private sources as well as university funds.

The new centre will bolster the university’s world-leading position in a field of chemical biology that is revolutionising drug discovery, while helping to facilitate the development of high growth companies.

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Under the plans, an existing two-storey building will be fitted out with “state-of-the-art” facilities to allow a specialist team to expand its pioneering work in an area that has attracted billions of pounds of investment globally in the last five years.

The Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) will be housed at the Technopole site adjacent to the University of Dundee's School of Life Sciences.

The core team working on targeted protein degradation will grow from about 25 currently to 50 when the labs are relocated to the new facility, with further expansion planned as research work develops.

Targeted protein degradation research covers areas such as oncology, dermatology, immunology and respiratory diseases. As an entirely new approach, it provides hope of treating diseases previously thought to be “undruggable”. The first “degrader” drugs of these kind are advancing in clinical trials against cancer.

Professor Alessio Ciulli of the University of Dundee said: “Targeted protein degradation is one of the most exciting areas of scientific study to have emerged in many years, one which is revolutionising drug development. We are only beginning to explore the true potential of TPD to produce next-generation therapeutics for a variety of diseases.

“Dundee is right at the heart of these efforts. We are one of a handful of institutions leading the world in TPD and this centre is integral to our ambition of establishing Dundee as the undisputed pinnacle for training and innovating in TPD research.

“Our new home will provide opportunities for growth and to capitalise on the expertise we have established here. It will help to accelerate innovation and will also attract further investment and major collaboration partners in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The research has already led to significant collaborations with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Amphista Therapeutics, the university spinout Ciulli founded, last month received a near-£40m investment to further its work developing new drugs for a range of diseases.

Promoting further commercialisation is a key aim of the new centre, which will be sited next to the new Tay Cities Regional Innovation Hub. This facility, funded as part of the Tay Cities Deal, will bring together world-class life sciences innovation and entrepreneurial expertise to drive high-growth company formation, providing new treatments and technologies.

The CeTPD is expected to contribute to a pipeline of spinout companies. Work to fit out the centre is already underway and is expected to be completed by early 2022.

Professor Iain Gillespie, principal and vice-chancellor, said: “The investment we are making demonstrates our commitment to supporting and nurturing excellence.”

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