Industry and Universities Combine to Create Apollo Therapeutics Fund

28.01.2016 -

Three major drugs companies have joined forces with three leading UK universities to translate ground-breaking academic science into new medicines for a broad range of diseases.

AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Johnson & Johnson Innovation are combining with the technology transfer offices (TTOs) of Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Cambridge to create the Apollo Therapeutics Fund.

The formation of this type of fund is the first for an industry where Apollo said currently only around 10% of therapies entering clinical trials reach patients as medicines.

Apollo expects to advance academic preclinical research from the universities to a stage where it can either be progressed by one of the drugs firms following an internal bidding process, or out-licensed. All therapy areas and modalities, including small molecules, peptides, proteins, antibodies, cell and gene therapies will be considered.

Each of the three industry partners will contribute £10 million over six years to the venture, while the TTOs will each contribute a further £3.3 million. The pharmaceutical companies will also provide R&D expertise and additional resources to help with the commercial evaluation and development of projects.

Ian Tomlinson, former senior vice president, worldwide business development and biopharmaceuticals R&D for GSK, and founder and chief scientific officer of Domantis, has been appointed chairman of the Apollo Therapeutics Investment Committee (AIC). The AIC will comprise representatives from the six partners and make all investment decisions.

An independent Drug Discovery Team (DDT) of ex-industry scientists will identify and shape projects for development and advise the AIC accordingly. For successful projects, the originating university and TTO will receive a percentage of future commercial revenues or out-licensing fees and the remainder will be divided amongst all the Apollo partners.

Tony Hickson, managing director technology transfer of Imperial Innovations, one of the TTOs, said that the Apollo Therapeutics Fund would ultimately lead to the delivery of new medicines faster and cheaper, as well as generating new deal flow and licensing opportunities.