Babraham duo hail coronary artery disease triumph

15 May, 2024
Babraham Research Campus enterprise PlaqueTec and the Welch research group at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge have successfully completed a collaboration to evaluate lead compounds predicted to bind a pro-inflammatory protein discovered by PlaqueTec in pilot studies.
Dr Heidi Welch, Dr Stephen Chetwynd (Research Scientist, PlaqueTec), and Dr Diane Proudfoot (CSO, PlaqueTec)

PlaqueTec identifies endotype-specific biomarkers to advance precision medicine for coronary artery disease (CAD). The project was funded by the UKRI-BBSRC Campus Innovation Award (CIA), via the Babraham Research Campus Collaboration Fund in October 2023.

PlaqueTec and the Welch research group, focused on research into cell signalling and led by Dr Heidi Welch, tested the pro-inflammatory protein in a human cell culture model, demonstrating its potential to be targeted by small molecule drugs. This opened up new opportunities for a precision medicine approach to heart disease.

The target is now being evaluated as part of PlaqueTec’s ongoing BIOPATTERN trial and, if validated, further development will be pursued.

Dr Simon Williams, General Manager, PlaqueTec, said: “The successful completion of our latest collaboration with the Babraham Institute is an encouraging demonstration that new disease-specific targets identified by PlaqueTec have the potential to be modifiable by small molecule drugs.

“As we continue our BIOPATTERN trial, we are confident that our unique approach to endotyping CAD will pave the way for a new era of precision medicine for millions of patients with the disease.”

Dr Simon Williams. Courtesy – PlaqueTec.

Dr Heidi Welch, Associate Group Leader, Signalling Research Programme at the Babraham Institute, added: “Our work is focused on the molecular mechanisms that control a specific family of proteins, particularly in inflammatory cells.

“We are delighted to have leveraged this expertise in an early phase target discovery and development project with PlaqueTec for its recently discovered pro-inflammatory protein target.

“Following the success of this collaboration, we are excited to see this novel drug target undergo further evaluation in PlaqueTec’s BIOPATTERN trial.”

Derek Jones, Chief Executive of Babraham Research Campus, was thrilled by the results of the collaboration. He said: “The UKRI-BBSRC Campus Innovation Award was initiated last year to give individuals and companies on Campus access to a unique tranche of funding not available elsewhere. We are therefore delighted to see the success of the collaboration between PlaqueTec and the Welch research group to date and look forward to further updates once evaluation via PlaqueTec’s BIOPATTERN trial is concluded.”

In February 2022, PlaqueTec was awarded Innovate UK Business Growth funding to collaborate with Medicines Discovery Catapult to work on a pilot project aimed at identifying novel drug targets in CAD.

Data obtained for this earlier project formed the basis for the current CIA-funded project to evaluate lead compounds against one of the targets identified.