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Awards for three Leiden Partnership projects with industry sector

NWO is funding three partnership projects with the industry sector. The projects relate to speeding up the search for new medicines, studying the changes in proteins as medicine and developing analytical techniques for research on the building blocks of life.

The projects are being funded from NWO's Science PPP fund (see right-hand column) that is part of the government's Top Sector policy. This policy aims to promote innovation in a number of strong Dutch sectors. The fund is intended to promote partnerships and knowledge exchange between knowledge institutions and companies. It comprises different programmes with varying percentage contributions to projects: 80%, 70% and 50%. The remaining funds are provided by the participating company (or companies).

Launchpad for Innovative Future Technology (LIFT) programme

  • 80% funding from NWO, 20% from the industry sector
  • Top sectors: Chemistry, Energy, Agri&Food and IT

Project: 
EXPLORE. Using new computer models that make use of machine learning to arrive at a better and faster design process for new medicines.

Lead applicant: Prof. Gerard van Westen, Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR)
Consortium: Leiden University and Galapagos NV
Finding new medicines is complex, time-consuming and expensive. New computer models that make use of machine learning can bring major benefits. To help them in their search for the best possible active substances, Leiden University and drug developer Galapagos will be developing software that can generate molecules while simultaneously optimising them for various characteristics. These characteristics could be such traits as good biological activity, solubility and metabolic stability. The software incorporates the predictions to direct the design-make-test cycle. The application of these techniques in practice, in both an academic and an industrial setting, will contribute to the success and applicability of the software. The expected end result is a new computer programme that will contribute to a better and faster design proess for new medicines. 

Project:
Establishing methods to chart changes in proteins administered

Lead applicant: Prof. Manfred Wuhrer, LUMC - Proteomics and Glycomics
Consortium: LUMC, Roche Diagnostics GmbH
Present-day medicines are often proteins that are introduced into the bloodstream. Once they have been introduced, these proteins undergo changes. Part of the proteins can be cut off, for example, or modifications can appear. The LUMC, in partnership with two international concerns (Roche and Sciex), will be developing methods for charting the changes in the proteins once they are administered. They will also study the influence of these changes on the lifespan and activity of the medicine. This project will contribute to quality control, improvements in the applicability of medicines and the development of  new medicines. 

Technology Area (TA) programme

  • 70% funding fromNWO, 30% funding from industry sector
  • There will be no new TA round in the next period (2020-2023) 

Project:
Towards a more rapid understanding of the building blocks of life

Lead applicant: Prof. Thomas Hankemeier, Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR)
Consortium: Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, DSM, AstraZeneca, Interscience/SampleQ, Sciex
To better understand the dynamics of the building blocks of life - metabolites, enzymes and cells - analytical techniques are needed that will make it possible to study these building blocks rapidly and in real-life conditions. This project therefore incorporates the development of automated analysis workflows that can be applied broadly. The success of this approach will be apparent from measurements of the dynamics of enzymes that are used for baking bread, clinical samples and complex cell models in the search for better medicines.

Read more about this research

Industrial Partnership Programme (IPP)

  • 50% contribution from NWO, 50% funding from the industry sector
  • Top sectors: Chemistry, Energy, HTSM (High-Tech Systems and Materials) and Agri&Food

Participation by Leiden, no lead applicant

Project:
From CO
2-rich waste gas to valuable base chemicals

Lead applicant: Prof. Bert Weckhuysen (UU)
Consortium: UU, LEI, Tata Steel, M2i
With a COreduction of over 50% in comparison to the conventional blast furnace process, the recently developed HIsarnaproces is an important step forwards in Tata Steel's ambition to make its steel production completely carbon-free. The use of HIsarna top gas is key for this consortium. Tata Steel, Utrecht University, Leiden University and M2i have joined forces to convert the CO2-rich emissions of the HIsarna top gas at  high temperature into valuable base chemicals by using a thermo- and electrochemical method. For this purpose, in addition to new catalysts, new thermo- and electrochemical measurement methods will be developed that are generically applicable in the broad field of catalysis and process technology.

Banner photo: Dids/Pexels

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