Science Park open for business to support community’s important activities
The life sciences and healthcare community at Discovery Park, the Life Sciences Opportunity Zone for ambitious and growing life sciences companies, is working to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in a variety of ways. From novel anti-viral drugs to new collaborations to ensure clinical trials proceed without disruption, the companies are adapting to the challenging circumstances. Discovery Park is pleased to be open to help deliver these important activities. Across the region more broadly, Discovery Park’s partners, the Universities of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church, are also undertaking research around new drugs and vaccines.
The clinical expertise of the Pfizer team at Discovery Park is being used in the development of a novel potential anti-COVID-19 drug which has shown promising activity. The compound is derived from work carried out in response to the 2003 SARS outbreak, and staff are working around the clock on production of materials for preclinical testing, clinical formulation and supplies. Based on an accelerated timeline, the drug candidate could enter clinical trials in the third quarter of this year.
Firza, which works with GP surgeries and NHS organisations to provide innovative technology and workforce solutions, has expanded its business dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. This includes establishment of a novel COVID-19 contact centre. Over 70 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are now working virtually, providing services such as telephone consultations with high-risk patients to ensure medicines are being used properly.
Two members of Discovery Park’s Health Hub, Wren Healthcare and A4P Bio Logistics, are collaborating to ensure clinical trial continuity during the pandemic. With many patients unable to attend usual clinical trial sites, Wren Healthcare is providing home visits from nurses whilst A4P Bio Logistics manages shipments of the trial medicine to patients and sample collection. This collaboration is helping to keep patients in clinical trials, allowing the studies to continue despite the challenging circumstances. A4P Bio Logistics is also involved in international logistics for coronavirus test samples.
Researchers at Venomtech are investigating whether venom peptides can inhibit the interaction between the COVID-19 virus spike protein and its cell surface receptors. In terms of other research in the region, academics at Canterbury Christ Church University have been collaborating globally on a computer model to aid understanding of the coronavirus and how it spreads. One group of reseachers at the University of Kent has been studying the drug susceptibility of the virus, while others there are working on a potential vaccine.
Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, said, ‘Everyone at Discovery Park is very proud of the work our innovative community is doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased that we are open for business and can support these important activities. It’s also very exciting to see our partner universities contributing their research expertise to tackle the coronavirus, a sign of the academic excellence across our region.’