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£3.2m deal extends MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology’s Blue Sky collaboration with AstraZeneca in Cambridge



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The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge has agreed to an additional $4millon - around £3.2m - funding to extend its Blue Sky research collaboration with AstraZeneca beyond 2022.

Launched in 2014, the collaboration has prompted pre-clinical research projects that encourage an open-minded approach to fundamental biology and disease.

MRC LMB director Jan Lowe. Picture: Keith Heppell. (34821444)
MRC LMB director Jan Lowe. Picture: Keith Heppell. (34821444)

Jan Löwe, director of the LMB, said: “We are extremely pleased that our innovative collaboration with AstraZeneca continues. Blue Sky projects will continue to deliver outstanding science and give us access to amazing people and resources. We consider Blue Sky to be the LMB’s flagship industrial collaboration and are very proud of the science it delivers.”

Among the notable findings was the discovery by researchers in John O’Neill’s group, in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, and Peter Newham at AstraZeneca, that the mechanism whereby circadian rhythms within heart cells help to change heart function.

Meanwhile, researchers in Roger Williams’ group, in the LMB’s PNAC Division, and structural biologist Chris Phillips, at AstraZeneca, revealed the first three-dimensional structural model of ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM), which is a key regulator of the DNA damage response signalling pathway and target for cancer therapies.

Researchers in Manu Hegde’s group, in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, and AstraZeneca’s then associate principal scientist Ana Narvaez uncovered one pathway responsible for disposing of unusable proteins that are produced in high quantity in cancer cells owing to their mutated and rearranged genomes.

Prof John Iredale, MRC executive chair said: “Since the formation in 2014, the Blue Sky initiative has provided researchers with the tools and technology to tackle some of the most difficult questions in fundamental biology and disease, which is why we are thrilled to extend this important collaboration between the LMB and AstraZeneca.”

Sir Mene Pangalos elected to the Royal Society . Picture: Keith Heppell. (56589032)
Sir Mene Pangalos elected to the Royal Society . Picture: Keith Heppell. (56589032)

Sir Mene Pangalos, EVP biopharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “Understanding the biology of the disease is critical to developing the next wave of life-changing medicines for patients where there is still huge unmet need.

“The Blue Sky Collaboration with the MRC LMB epitomises the importance of academic and industry partnerships in helping turn science into medicine, and we are thrilled to be continuing this initiative.”

Read more

LMB and AstraZeneca explain how our body clock affects heart rhythms, with implications for shift workers, the elderly and the timing of medicines

Dr Jan Löwe on the next frontier for MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge

Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours 2022: AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot is knighted after leadership during pandemic



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