Published: 24 Jan 2022 | Last Updated: 09 Aug 2023 12:23:28

The RVC, and its partners in The Bloomsbury SET programme, will bring together industry and academia to strengthen the response to global human and animal health challenges

The Bloomsbury SET – a knowledge exchange programme led by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) – has announced a Commercialisation Pilot of 12 new grants for projects which will develop tools to better fight infectious disease or antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Supported by more than £1 million of funding, these projects will bring together researchers and businesses to deliver new vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics that will benefit animal and human health.

With infectious diseases and AMR now a high priority for global public health, there is an urgent need for both academic and commercial sectors to work together more effectively to prepare and respond to existing and emerging challenges.

Through these nine-month pilots, the consortium, comprised of the RVC, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON) led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and SOAS University of London, will target academics in the early stages of their commercialisation journey. The programme will help develop a pipeline of skilled innovators and competitive ideas which can progress to higher Technology Readiness Levels.

While twelve projects have been awarded grants, highlights include:

  • A project led by Javier Guitian, Professor of Veterinary Public Health at the RVC, which will look at probabilistic diagnostic algorithm for early serological detection of Johne’s disease (JD) in dairy cattle. This infectious disease of ruminants, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, is responsible for huge economic losses on farms in the UK, mainland Europe and the USA. Control of JD is a priority for the dairy sector and relies on early identification of infected cows.
  • A study led by Nicholas Furnham, Associate Professor in Computational Biology of Infectious Disease at LSHTM, which will seek to advance inhibitors targeting Cathepsin D as a new drug treatment for schistosomiasis. A combination of computational and experimental techniques has been used to identify compounds that inhibit the activity of a protein shown to be crucial for the survival of parasites of the genus Schistosoma. The aim is to develop these promising new compounds, improving their efficacy and demonstrating their effectiveness at killing the parasite.
  • An iiCON led research project led by David Weetman, Reader at LSTM, and in collaboration with Vestergaard, which will focus on the commercialisation of the LSTM barrier bed net. This new design of net has a fabric barrier standing proud from the roof of the net. Field and hut trials have shown that the barrier nets kill many more mosquitoes than standard nets treated with the same insecticide.

Dr Emma Tomlinson, Head of Research Development at the RVC and Chair of The Bloomsbury SET Steering Committee, said:

“These twelve projects represent the strongest applications received by The Bloomsbury SET from our partner universities, all working with relevant industry partners. In addition to development funding, the Commercialisation Pilot also includes support from a dedicated mentor and networking and training opportunities through The Bloomsbury SET. We look forward to seeing these ideas develop further along their translation journey.”

Professor Richard Bomphrey, Interim Vice Principal for Research at the RVC:

“There has never been a better time to bring together an outstanding interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial consortium to take on the globally important and pressing issues of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance. The Bloomsbury SET Impact Connector programme will support innovators as they take promising therapeutics from the laboratory to communities worldwide.”

This announcement takes the total number of projects funded by The Bloomsbury SET to 42, equating to the distribution of more than £5 million in grant funding since April 2018.

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London.
  • It is one of the few veterinary schools in the world that hold accreditations from the RCVS in the UK (with reciprocal recognition from the AVBC for Australasia, the VCI for Ireland and the SAVC for South Africa), the EAEVE in the EU, and the AVMA in the USA and Canada.
  • The RVC is ranked as the top veterinary school in the world in line with the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2021.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.  
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

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