MRC Technology and AstraZeneca call for epigenetic targets in respiratory disease


MRC Technology (MRCT), a medical research charity, and AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company, are launching an initiative to find new epigenetic drug targets in respiratory disease. MRCT and AstraZeneca are now seeking academics with relevant epigenetics targets to collaborate with them to develop novel treatments for respiratory diseases, which affect millions of people every year.


Dr Justin Bryans, Director, Drug Discovery, at MRC Technology said: “By combining our expertise, we will generate more opportunities to translate early stage academic research into potential new therapies to benefit patients. We are aiming to accelerate the development of novel small molecule drugs that can specifically target epigenetic pathways involved in respiratory diseases.”
AstraZeneca and MRCT are particularly interested to hear from researchers studying epigenetic mechanisms involved in respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. In addition, they are also interested in epigenetic modulators acting in biological pathways  relevant to respiratory, inflammatory or autoimmune disease, such as those involved in determining particular immune cell subsets or phenotypes (for example Tregs and T effector cells).
Drug discovery projects will be a multidisciplinary collaboration between academic scientists, AstraZeneca and MRCT. AstraZeneca and MRCT will provide proprietary small molecule collections, assay development and screening, medicinal chemistry, access to disease models for testing the molecules and project oversight.
Maarten Kraan, Head of the Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmune Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca, said: “Respiratory diseases are a key area of focus for AstraZeneca and one that represents a high unmet medical need. We are now starting to understand how epigenetic factors help to explain the generation of many chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD. These factors are also reversible, which makes them good targets for therapeutic intervention. This unique collaboration will allow us to work with a strong academic consortium and the best academic translational scientists across the world to advance medical science and accelerate the search for new treatments.”
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About MRC Technology
MRC Technology is an independent life science medical research charity committed to improving positive patient outcomes everywhere.
As a champion for human health, MRC Technology partners with academic, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and charity organisations to move promising medical research forward into viable and accessible patient treatments.
As a self-funded charity, income is reinvested to support translating research from the bench to patient. MRC Technology offers commercialisation and IP management skills and diagnostic and drug discovery expertise, specialising in small molecules and therapeutic antibodies.

MRC Technology projects have led to several approved drugs, changing the lives of countless patients by harnessing the potential of science.
About AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three main therapy areas - respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune disease (RIA), cardiovascular and metabolic disease (CVMD) and oncology – as well as in infection and neuroscience. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:


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Liezel Tipper
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AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases.