Driving discovery at Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research

Driving discovery at  Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research

Case study by Astrazeneca

The Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR) is a unique, tripartite collaboration between the University of Manchester, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Each invested an equal amount to engage in pre-competitive research together.

MCCIR scientists aim to develop novel concepts in inflammation research that may lead to new discoveries for patients in an area of significant unmet clinical need. Inflammatory diseases affect millions of people worldwide, causing disability, pain and in some cases premature death. Inflammation is one of the body’s natural healing processes and understanding how and why inflammation becomes harmful is vital for improving treatment of chronic diseases such as respiratory diseases, cancer and heart disease.

“To our knowledge, this open innovation collaboration with academia and two industry partners contributing equally is unique. All credit to the University of Manchester for having the foresight and courage to undertake this venture. We now have greater opportunity to explore our innovative hypotheses and do cutting-edge science,” said Rose Maciewicz, Chief Scientist, Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity Innovative Medicines biotech unit, AstraZeneca. Edith M. Hessel, Vice President, Respiratory Therapy Area Unit, GSK, agreed, “MCCIR is pioneering a new approach to academic-industry collaboration that promises faster routes to scientific discovery, greater access to innovative projects and a new focus on finding treatments for the causes, rather than the outcomes, of inflammation.

“Brainstorming new concepts in inflammatory disease with industrial and clinical scientists and then having the freedom and the facilities to act upon these ideas is an unmissable opportunity. If our goal is to translate great basic science for the benefit of patients, then industrial scientists should be involved at the beginning of the discovery process. The MCCIR embodies a new model of partnership; a model that I believe will release the constraints on our understanding of inflammatory diseases and how to alleviate them,” said Professor Tracy Hussell, MCCIR Centre Director.

The collaboration has already brought tangible scientific results in several areas:

  • Established a fully functional research unit with over 70 active scientists and state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, setting the stage for potentially groundbreaking discoveries.
  • Working closely with several Manchester hospitals to ensure translation of research findings into humans.
  • Understanding that remaining healthy is an active rather than a passive process. Only through understanding what maintains health, can we restore those processes in patients. MCCIR scientists are applying this approach to skin, gut and lung inflammation.
  • Using super resolution microscopy to unveil new ways that antibodies function at the cell level, influencing the way the body’s own natural killer white blood cells behave, paving the way for treating a range of conditions.
  • Through ex vivo organ perfusion in humans and pigs, MCCIR scientists are exploring the transition from health to disease and disease to health, which will identify pathways and develop new therapies. The use of whole organ systems for basic science research is unprecedented.
  • 66 papers published in scientific journals since the centre was opened.



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