Imperial Confidence in Concept (ICiC) Scheme Awards Funding to 26 projects

The Faculty of Medicine is delighted to report the outcome of the sixth Imperial Confidence in Concept (ICiC) competition, which was instigated to support the College-wide development of novel devices, diagnostics and therapeutics for areas of unmet clinical need.

Funding

This year, a fund in excess of £1.6M was made available from the MRC (Confidence in Concept fund), NIHR Imperial BRC, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, EPSRC Impact Acceleration Accounts, and HEIF funding, as well as support from NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research.

For the second year in a row we have also partnered with AstraZeneca to offer the AZ Innovation Fund as part of the ICiC call. The aim of the AZ Innovation Fund is to enable drug discovery by facilitating the development of new technologies and the exploration of disease biology.

Why is the ICiC important?

The aim of the scheme is to strengthen the College’s early translational research portfolio, providing funding to help with the translation of novel therapeutics, devices and diagnostics towards clinical testing and/or a marketable product. This is achieved by providing vital pilot-funding to bridge potential gaps between discovery research and applications for MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme or Developmental Clinical Studies Funding Scheme.

Since its inception in 2012, 117 projects have been funded, leveraging in excess of £61M in follow on funding, transforming the pull-through of discovery science to clinical application across the College.

The 2018 award winners

The cross-College panel, which was chaired by Professor Roberto Solari and included external members, was very impressed with the high quality of applications this year.

Proposals covered the full breadth of biomedical translational research across the College, and examples include:

  • Lipid A analysis by MALDI-MS on intact bacteria discriminates chromosomal and plasmidic resistance to last resort antibiotics (Larrouy-Maumus);
  • Using novel cytokines to accelerate wound closure (Higgins);
  • Development and testing of Novel Bio-orthogonally Modified Viruses as Vaccine Candidates (O’Hare);
  • Self-Homing Intelligent Needle Ecosystem (SHINE) (Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena).

We are also pleased to announce two co-funded projects with our colleagues at the NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden and Institute of Cancer Research:

  • Autologous jejunal mucosal transplantation combined with topical lubiprostone to reduce xerostomia after chemoradiation (JETPROX): a pilot study in 5 patients
    • A collaboration between Dr Vinidh Paleri (RMH) and Dr Peter Clarke (Imperial)
  • Fluorescent Probes with Exceptional Brightness for Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer by Direct Imaging
    • Led by Imperial’s Dr Fang Xie in collaboration with the Royal Marsden’s Dr Steve Allen and Dr Richard Sidebottom

All investigators awarded 2018 ICiC grants (up to £80,000)

Prof Geoff Baldwin (Department of Life Sciences) – Cellular delivery of PROTACS as a novel therapeutic approach

  • This project is funded by the AZ Innovation Fund

Dr Paul Bentley, Prof Daniel Rueckert, Prof Mark Wilson & Dr Kyriakos Lobotesis (Departments of Medicine, Computing, and Surgery & Cancer) – Acute Brain CT Analytics

Dr Andrew Blagborough & Dr Fiona Angrisano (Department of Life Sciences) – Development of Novel Native GPI-Anchored-Protein Based Vaccines to Drive Malarial Control and Elimination

Prof Rosemary Boyton & Prof Danny Altmann (Department of Medicine) – Subunit vaccine for prophylactic and therapeutic use in respiratory patients with chronic bacterial infection

Dr Thomas Clarke (Department of Medicine) – No ESKAPE: using synthetic communities of commensal bacteria to protect against AMR pathogen carriage and transmission

Dr Andrew Edwards & Prof Ed Tate (Departments of Medicine and Chemistry) – Sensitising LMIC-relevant bacterial pathogens to immune defences and antibiotics

Dr Claire Higgins & Dr Ben Almquist (Department of Bioengineering) – Using novel cytokines to accelerate wound closure

Dr Mark Isalan (Department of Life Sciences) – Validation of humanised hZFP lead construct for a first-in-human AAV-based gene therapy for Huntington’s disease

Dr Richard Kelwick & Prof Paul Freemont (Department of Medicine) – A scalable approach for isolating therapeutic exosomes

Dr Gerald Larrouy-Maumus & Prof Alain Filloux (Department of Life Sciences) – Lipid A analysis by MALDI-MS on intact bacteria discriminates chromosomal and plasmidic resistance to last resort antibiotics

Dr Harry Low (Department of Life Sciences) – Method development to discover antibiotics in uncultivable bacteria

Dr David Mann & Prof Alan Armstrong (Departments of Life Sciences and Chemistry) – Targeted covalent drug discovery for Rac

  • This project is funded by the AZ Innovation Fund

Prof Julian Marchesi, Prof Mark Thursz, Dr Julie McDonald & Dr Benjamin Mullish (Department of Surgery & Cancer) – Bile salt hydrolase and valerate: novel treatments to prevent and treat Clostridium difficile infection

Prof Steve Matthews (Department of Life Sciences) – Development of TRIAP1/PRELI1 inhibitors to tackle drug resistance in breast cancer

Dr Paul McKay, Dr Anna Blakney & Prof Robin Shattock (Department of Medicine) – Optimization of Modular, Exteriorly-Loaded Lipid Nanoparticles for mRNA Delivery in Human Skin Explants

  • This project is funded by the AZ Innovation Fund

Prof Peter O’Hare & Dr John Tregoning (Department of Medicine) – Development and testing of Novel Bio-orthogonally Modified Viruses as Vaccine Candidates

Dr Darryl Overby, Dr Joseph Sherwood & Prof Michael Seckl (Departments of Bioengineering and Surgery & Cancer) – A perfusion micro-bioreactor to maintain biopsies in culture for personalised cancer medicine

Dr Vinidh Paleri & Dr Peter Clarke (NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden & ICR and Department of Surgery & Cancer) – Autologous jejunal mucosal transplantation combined with topical lubiprostone to reduce xerostomia after chemoradiation (JETPROX): a pilot study in 5 patients

Dr Lorenzo Picinali (Dyson School of Design Engineering) – Refining and evaluating the Binaural Intervention Package (BIP) for bilateral cochlear implant users

Prof Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena (Department of Mechanical Engineering) – Self-Homing Intelligent Needle Ecosystem (SHINE)

Dr Gregory Scott, Dr Nir Grossman, Dr Adam Hampshire & Prof David Sharp (Department of Medicine) – Developing a measure of conscious level with electroencephalography and transcranial electrical stimulation

Prof Molly Stevens & Prof Charles Coombes (Departments of Materials and Surgery & Cancer) – State-of-the-art Raman single particle analysis of extracellular vesicles as biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and treatment

Prof Ed Tate & Dr Ernesto Cota-Segura (Departments of Chemistry and Life Sciences) – Towards the first cell-active inhibitors of Rab27a: a novel target in metastatic cancer

Prof Ramesh Wigneshweraraj (Department of Medicine) – Host environment dependent delivery of antibacterials by engineered phage

Dr Fang Xie, Prof Charles Coombes & Dr Steve Allen (Departments of Materials and Surgery & Cancer and NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden & ICR) – Fluorescent Probes with Exceptional Brightness for Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer by Direct Imaging

Prof Xiao-Ning Xu & Dr Jia Guo (Department of Medicine) – Isolation of broadly cross-reactive human monoclonal antibodies against highly pathogenic coronaviruses using yeast surface display

 

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