De Montfort technology cuts cost of drug development

Allows cytochrome P450s (CYPs) to be shipped and handled at room temperature

De Montfort University (DMU) is working with UK-based life sciences commercialisation company, Ithaka Life Sciences, to market new technology that speeds up and reduces the cost of the development of new drugs and medicines.

DMU’s Professor Bob Chaudhuri has invented the technology, which will provide new products and services, based on a set of proteins called cytochrome P450s (CYPs).

CYPs are found in the human liver and are mostly responsible for the metabolism of drugs in people. These proteins are commercially available for use by companies involved in the discovery of new drugs, but can be inconvenient to use as they must be transported and stored at temperatures as low as –80ºC.

Prof Chaudhuri’s new technology allows CYPs to be shipped and handled at room temperature, eliminating the need for a cold chain.

DMU and Ithaka have established a new company called CYP Design Ltd (CDL) to market the technology.

‘The development of new drugs can be very time-consuming and costly,’ says Chaudhuri. ‘It can take up to 14 years from the initial idea and cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Thousands of potential new drugs are tested initially for every one successfully brought to market.

De Montfort University has licensed Prof Chaudhuri's technology to CYP Design Ltd (CDL)

‘Early drug discovery work has to identify new chemical compounds which are potentially useful without being toxic to humans. Current testing methodologies do not address the problem as these model systems often react differently from humans to new chemicals.

‘My group’s development is designed to provide the proteins that are needed for this work in a cost effective and convenient format.’

DMU has licensed this new technology to CDL, which is now seeking to bring the new products to market. Ithaka is leading the implementation of the business strategy through Dr Bill Primrose as CEO and Dr Paul Rodgers as chairman.

Primrose said: ‘We’re delighted to be working with DMU and believe the technology that Professor Chaudhuri has been developing can have a significant impact on the timescales and costs involved in the early stages of drug discovery.

‘CYPs are currently transported on dry ice, at around –80ºC, and are stored as cold as possible in the customer’s laboratory until they are needed.

‘This new technology eliminates the need for a cold chain making it easier to manufacture and ship the proteins, and making them much more convenient for the customer to use.’