The team at the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) is working to unlock information about the structure and function of different proteins within the human body. They use cutting-edge science to accelerate the discovery of potential treatments for incurable diseases such as brain tumours.
The aim is to discover the shape of proteins which play a part in causing particular diseases, paving the way for the development of drugs that 'lock on' to specific parts of those proteins and change their behaviour.
Crucially, the SGC shares all of its findings at no cost for others to access.
Any information that the team uncovers about proteins related to brain tumour development will be available free of charge to anyone else in the world who is working in the field of brain tumour research – regardless of whether they are part of an academic organisation or a pharmaceutical company.
As part of our pioneering partnership, we will fund two research posts within the SGC.
Scientists from the SGC and The Brain Tumour Charity will begin our joint project by using the human genome – the entire 'map' of around 30,000 genes within the body – to identify which genes are most likely to produce proteins that play a part in brain tumour development.
The researchers we fund will then focus on the most promising targets, with a view to determining the shape of any protein which might be responsive to new brain tumour drug treatments.
We are among only a handful of charities in the world to have entered this type of agreement with the SGC. Several global pharmaceutical companies and researchers from around the world have already signed up to SGC's model of sharing scientific discoveries.
Professor Chas Bountra, chief scientist of the SGC at the University of Oxford, said: “The Brain Tumour Charity and its leadership are real visionaries – it is rare in our midst to find like-minded groups who are placing the science for the patient before any other distractions such as patents and ownership.
“Their brave decision of exploring truly innovative targets will most certainly help drive the next generation of fundamental discoveries that lead us to new medicines."
Dr Steven Pollard, Cancer Research UK Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh's MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, who leads a research group focusing on glioblastoma, said: “This collaboration between the SGC and The Brain Tumour Charity is especially welcome as it creates an opportunity for the SGC to focus some of its efforts specifically on brain tumours.
“The SGC has been making available high-quality compounds that are critical to help develop new drugs across a range of human diseases.
“With the recent improved understanding of the mechanisms that underpin brain tumours there is now a wealth of new potential drug targets emerging. These should ultimately provide real benefits for patients, and the SGC is vital to ensure it happens as rapidly as is possible."
Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “We have two clear goals – to double survival and to halve the harm caused by brain tumours.
“We will only achieve them by driving forward new ways of working and by collaborating with others who share our vision.
“Progress towards new treatments for brain tumours has been much too slow, partly because of complex issues around 'ownership' of research discoveries.
“SGC operates in a wholly different way which fits perfectly with our pioneering approach and which offers us an opportunity to bring about real change."