New centre to develop future protein-based drugs
At the turn of the year, a new centre for protein research is to open in Sweden. Uppsala University is one of three higher education institutions involved in the Wallenberg Centre for Protein Research, WCPR. Its purpose will be to continue the identification and characterisation of human proteins and to develop future targeted biopharmaceuticals.
The centre is a long-term undertaking in protein development and it will be run by KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm) in collaboration with Uppsala University and Chalmers University of Technology (Göteborg).
‘It is very pleasing that Sweden is setting up such a centre which will also work on treatments and will seek to produce new pharmaceuticals. It is a natural progression from what we have built up during our 12 years with the Human Protein Atlas. We now have the opportunity to apply our basic research to biopharmaceuticals,’ says Fredrik Pontén, professor of Pathology at Uppsala University.
The new protein centre will employ around a hundred people with the management team based at KTH. At Uppsala University, around ten researchers will work on the project led by Cecilia Lindskog Bergström from the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
The research will have three main threads:
- Continued identification and characterisation of human proteins
- Devising new potential biopharmaceuticals, i.e. protein-based drugs made from the body’s own proteins
- Developing platforms for actually producing such pharmaceuticals
The research builds upon the Human Protein Atlas which Fredrik Pontén worked upon for 12 years. The Atlas is a study of the expression of the 20 000 human proteins found in all normal tissues and organs as well as in cancers.
‘We will continue our work on characterising human proteins and we want to produce new potential biopharmaceuticals made from the body’s own proteins. This project will give us the chance to develop and expand our tissue-based research,’ says Fredrik Pontén.
The funds for the new research centre WCPR amount to SEK 510 million of which a major portion comes from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation which is providing SEK 320 million. The other financiers are Astra Zeneca and the three participating higher education institutions.