Innovation That Matters

A super resolution image of individual molecules of EPAC1 within a cell. Researchers plan to target these proteins to inhibit inflammation. | Photo source Heriot-Watt University

Researchers find breakthrough inflammatory disease treatment 

Health & Wellbeing

The research is set to be commercialised following a funding award from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme, with resulting treatments expected to offer advantages over existing medications in both efficacy and safety

Spotted: Researchers from Heriot-Watt University and the University of Texas Medical Branch have discovered what is believed to be a major milestone in the development of treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases and fibrosis.

The research conducted found a way to target the EPAC1 protein, which is involved in the inflammation process and is key to many common chronic diseases. The researchers used their findings to develop several potential treatment options, which they said showed effectiveness in tackling inflammation and are ‘expected to offer advantages over existing medications in both efficacy and safety’.  

“By activating our newly identified enzyme, we can essentially ‘switch off’ inflammation. By doing so, we believe we can stop the harm chronic inflammation can do and hope to improve outcomes for patients when these treatments come to market,” says Dr Stephen Yarwood from the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University.

The research is set to be commercialised following a funding award from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme.  Heriot-Watt University will use the funding to establish a specialist Scottish biotechnology company that develops treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases and fibrosis.

Victoria Carmichael, Director of Strategic Investments at Scottish Enterprise, explained that the funding has also allowed the team to recruit commercial expertise from industry veteran Chris Wardhaugh who will act as a CEO-Designate for the biotechnology company. The team is also working closely with the University’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery (GRID) facility.

Inflammation is an important area of medical research and, at Springwise, we have spotted a number of innovations aimed at tackling the issue. These include a way to genetically engineer cartilage to deliver an anti-inflammatory drug, and blood tests that looks for early signs of inflammation.

Written By: Katrina Lane

Email: a.pugh@hw.ac.uk

Website: hw.ac.uk

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