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George Freeman

George Freeman opens ground-breaking drug discovery research centre

George Freeman MP visited the University’s Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) on Thursday, a multi-million pound facility that further enhances the city’s reputation as a world-leader in the global life sciences sector.

Minister Freeman met with the academic leaders behind the research, which has been pioneered at Dundee, to learn more about how Targeted Protein Degradation (TPD) is transforming modern research and development and providing the scientific community with hope of treating diseases previously thought to be undruggable.

Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at the University, said, “It is a pleasure to welcome the Minister to open our new Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation.

“The University is recognised globally in the field of life sciences and this new Centre represents our commitment to further enhancing this reputation.

“It is fitting that the CeTPD is located next to the Tay Cities Regional Innovation Hub, which has been funded via the Tay Cities Region Deal. These sites bring together world-class research and entrepreneurial expertise that will advance and commercialise the breakthroughs being made here.

“Translating our research into successful spinout companies will only help to further establish Dundee, Scotland, and the wider UK at the centre of the highly competitive life sciences sector.”

Targeted Protein Degradation (TPD) is a relatively new field within drug discovery, whereby proteins in the cell that lead to disease are targeted for removal, or degradation, using molecules called degraders (or Proteolysis Targeting Chimeras, PROTACs).

Professor Alessio Ciulli, from the University’s School of Life Sciences, is a leading figure in developing insights into TPD. Degrader molecules developed by himself, and his team are now utilised around the world in the quest to develop new treatments for illnesses such as cancer, as well as dermatological and neurological conditions. TPD research has attracted billions of pounds of investment globally in recent years, with Dundee widely recognised as a world-leader in the field.

The new building allows the University’s School of Life Sciences to create a new Unit, that under Professor Ciulli’s directorship will be expected to more than double in size from the current 60 full-time posts, to more than 120 over the next five years, bringing more high-skilled jobs to the area. The Centre was established with the support of several industry partners and philanthropic organisations, including the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust and the Northwood Charitable Trust.

The CeTPD will also support and be expected to create new spinout companies, where exceptional fundamental research is translated into commercial products that can benefit patients across the world. The University is already recognised as a leader in supporting successful spinouts, having been named number one in the UK for its work in this field by Octopus Ventures earlier this year, while companies such as Amphista Therapeutics are already utilising TPD to create first-in-class therapeutics.

“Targeted Protein Degradation is one of the most exciting areas of science today,” said Professor Ciulli, Director of CeTPD. “Dundee is front and centre of global efforts in this new field. We are one of a handful of institutions leading the world in TPD. Our new Centre enables us to take our science to the next level and offers a pinnacle for training and innovation in TPD research.

“Welcoming the Minister to Dundee has been a huge honour for us all and allowed us to demonstrate the significant scientific and economic impact our work has. The establishment of CeTPD is a milestone moment and will ensure that research carried out here in Dundee is at the vanguard of drug discovery for years to come.”

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said, “It is a joy for me to be here to signal that in Scotland, something very special is happening.

“This is not just a great UK story but a brilliant Dundee story. There are children born here who will think of Dundee as a city of technology, a city of science, and as a place creating innovations and opportunities for them.

“It gives a new generation a sense that we can cure disease, improve the world, and make Scotland and the United Kingdom safer and more prosperous.”