UCB joins with UK charity to research new epilepsy drugs
Belgium’s UCB has joined forces with the UK’s Epilepsy Society in a collaboration aimed at finding treatments for people who have the disease, but do not respond to current treatments.
The five-year, 2.5 million euro collaboration was announced on Monday, which is International Epilepsy Day.
UCB and the Epilepsy Society aim to use whole genome sequencing to better understand the genetic components of epilepsy and predict responses to treatment.
The collaboration will also use data analysis, such as machine learning approaches and genetic biomarker analysis.
Epilepsy affects over half a million people in the UK but only 52% of people with the condition in the UK are seizure free.
It is estimated that with the right treatment, the majority of people with epilepsy (70%) could be seizure free.
The first phases of the collaboration will focus on generating and analysing individual categories of data that have a role in determining a potential drug response, with an initial focus on the role of genetics. In the latter phases, the emphasis will move towards integrating different types of data sets and understanding how they act together.
In this way, it is hoped to build a more complete picture of the drivers of treatment resistance, which will allow the exploration of ways to predict and treat it.
Clinical data will be informed by the Epilepsy Society’s Chalfont Centre in Buckinghamshire, which provides tertiary care for people with the most severe and uncontrolled diseases.
UCB’s investment over the course of the collaboration is part of the pharma company’s wider commitment to the UK’s life sciences industry.
The announcement follows UCB’s decision to invest £1 billion into the UK life sciences sector over the next five years, including its new R&D site in or around Slough, Berkshire.
UCB’s focus on genomics ties in with NHS England’s 10 Year Plan, which also highlights this as a key area for investment.
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