Green light for life science innovation network

A new €11.96m project will see world-leading universities from Wales and Ireland working together with small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative medical products that could revolutionise how we treat disease.

The Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network (CALIN) collaborative programme  aims to connect Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)  with world leading Higher Educational Institutions including  Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities in Wales, and University College Dublin, The National University of Ireland Galway and Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork in Ireland.

Focusing on Precision Medicine (diagnostics, devices & therapeutics), Regenerative Medicine, and Bio-Compatibility & Safety Evaluation, CALIN will engage with businesses to support advanced life science product development through collaborative R&D.

The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “Life science is a key sector in Wales and Ireland and this funding will support research and development, which is vital to the creation of new products, technology and jobs.

To read more on this story please see the following links:


Recently funded Studentships, Research Projects, Impact Awards and Platforms

The Network has funded the following in its latest call:

Round 4 Funded Studentships

The network recently funded 13 Studentships in the 4th Round. Funded studentships include (PI and project title):

Prof Morgan, Targeting the terminal pathway in complement-driven disease

Dr Davies, Investigating novel small molecule enzyme inhibitors for treating cognitive decline and dementia

Dr Wang, Inhibiting IL-17 production by blocking endogenous RORγt agonists for the treatment of autoimmune diseases

Dr Tsai, Design and in vitro characterisation of a novel multimodular targeting platform for cancer treatment

Dr Tai, Smart Multifunctional Nanocarriers with Biodegradable and Dual Responsive (pH and temperature) Properties from Hyperbranched Polymers for Targeted Cancer Drug Delivery

Dr Johnson, Multiplexed in vitro assay for genetic toxicity screening

Dr Taylor, Targeting zinc signalling to prevent cell division in cancer

Dr Rozanowska, Novel Drug Therapy For Mitochondrial Optic Neuropathy and other Mitochondrial Diseases

Dr McBride, Developing an ovine model of Alzheimer’s disease

Dr Prokopovich, Nanotechnology induced prolonged antimicrobial activity of antibiotic loaded PMMA bone cements

Prof Sewell, Development of artificially enhanced T cells for targeting cancer

Prof Kanamarlapudi, Targeting of interleukin‐13 receptor (IL‐13R)2 expressing pancreatic cancer by a novel hybrid lytic peptide drug

Dr Lloyd-Evans, Developing new small molecule therapies for lysosomal diseases

Round 4 Funded Projects

The Network has recently awarded 15 round 4 research project grants. These include (PI and title):

Prof Sheldon, Countering the unrestrained inflammation of sepsis by targeting the JAK-STAT pathway in human macrophages

Prof Riccardi, Addressing an unmet medical need: developing inhaled calcilytics for steroid-resistant asthma

Dr Fallis, Long Life Imaging Probes for Dementia Patient Stratification

Dr Fallis18F-Gemcitabine as Diagnostic Tool in Personalised Chemotherapy

Prof Brambilla, Validation in rodent models of a novel approach to treat mood disorders based on ERK signalling stimulation

Prof Aeschlimann, A new angle to diagnosis and treatment of gluten related disorders

Dr Peall, Development of a Drosophila melanogaster model for SGCE mutation positive Myoclonus Dystonia

Dr Westwell, Chimeric phosphoramidate ProTides as anticancer and antiviral agents with fluorescent probes.

Dr Staples, Targeting Homologous Recombination to sensitise cancer cells to DNA-damaging agents

Prof Gumbleton, Development of Novel BMA-sulfobetaine Nanoparticle Delivery system to treat chronic wound infections

Dr Gwenin, The first preclinical analysis for a novel magnetically directed cancer treatment

Dr Loveridge, Novel antibacterial and antifungal natural products from Pseudomonas mesoacidophila

Prof Casini, Targeting G-quadruplex nucleic acid structures with caffeine gold compounds for cancer treatment

Dr Westwell, Developing Bcl3 inhibitors as anti-metastatic drug candidates

Dr Brancale, Development of a safer method for corneal stromal photo-crosslinking to stop the progression of keratoconus or to treat bacterial corneal infections

Round 2 Funded Impact Awards

The Network has recently funded 4 Research Impact Awards. These include (PI and title):

Dr Gonzalez, ADC targets from in-silico high-throughput screening identification into target validation

Dr Parker, Evaluation of folate receptor α (FRα) binding oligopeptides for targeted gene and drug delivery

Dr Patel, Evaluation of Novel CD200:CD200R Blockade Cancer Immunotherapy

Dr Francis, Targeted metabolic inhibition of T-lymphocytes: directing immunity during human disease

Round 2 Funded Platform Grant

The Network has recently funded one Platform Grant (PI and title):

Dr Piggott, Development of a PDX platform for Drug Discovery and Studies of Disease Biology in Wales

Equipping the cancer researchers of Wales

Earlier this month, as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, Cancer Research Wales held in association with the Life Sciences Research Network Wales (LSRNW), the first of several specialised workshops planned for Drug Discovery Workshop-Lecture Theatre2016. These workshops are designed to equip the scientists of Wales with a working knowledge of some of the very latest advances in cancer research to help support their own work.  The workshop which was kindly organised by Drs Andrea Brancale and Salvatore Ferla of the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, focused on Anticancer Computer Aided Drug Design. The school has a great track record in this area with several candidate compounds that have been designed using this approach already heading towards the clinic.

For the full story please click on the following link:


Life Sciences Hub Wales: Appointment of Chair and Board Members

Life Sciences Hub Wales (the Hub) has been established by Welsh Government to ensure ongoing development of the life sciences sector in Wales that delivers significant (>£1bn) economic impact by 2022.

The Hub’s mission is to connect, inspire and accelerate growth of companies in this sector, placing Wales on the international map as a preferred location to establish and grow successful life science companies.

The Hub is the nerve centre of a vibrant and prosperous Welsh life sciences eco-system and brings together academic, business, clinical and professional services, funding organisations and Government to provide a commercially-driven melting pot of talent.

Officially opened in July 2014 by Welsh Government the Hub has become a very successful focal point for public and private sector specialists and strategic partners, covering all sector activities ranging from funding to business support to international development and promotion.


The Welsh Government on behalf of Life Sciences Hub Wales Ltd is seeking applicants with an interest in, experience and knowledge of the life science sector, in particular in academia, clinical or industrial roles, with a commitment to generating and developing opportunities for achieving economic growth. Consideration will also be given to candidates from outside the life sciences sector who can demonstrate similar skills and experience.

For further details please refer to the following website:

Life Sciences Research Network Wales 2nd Annual Congress

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales held its 2nd Annual Congress on the 2nd and 3rd December 2015.

Professor Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services attended the evening poster exhibition and drinks reception then presented awards for the PhD presentations and posters.


Professor Mark Drakeford AM, speaking at the Life Sciences Research Network Wales 2nd Annual Congress Dinner.

Group photo of Congress delegates

Group photo of Congress delegates

Life Sciences Research Network Congress brings together Wales’ finest Drug Discovery Researchers


The Life Sciences Research Network Wales is part of the Welsh Government’s £50 million Ser Cymru programme aimed at building research capacity within Wales that addresses the Grand Challenges of:

  • Life sciences and health
  • Advanced engineering and materials
  • Low carbon, energy and environment

The Life Science Research Network Wales is based in Cardiff University and led by Professors Chris McGuigan and John Chester. This £15M initiative was supported by a grant of £7.3M from the Ser Cymru programme and HEFCW and aims to discover and develop new drugs in areas of unmet medical and veterinary need.

The Network brings together leading academics from Aberystwyth, Bangor Cardiff, and Swansea Universities and aims to support over 100 new research projects. The Network works closely with a number of industry partners, the NHS and other major funding bodies and has a strong focus on commercialising the outputs of academic research for ultimate patient benefit.

In its first year, the Network has supported a range of activities including PhD students, individual research projects and platform technologies at universities across Wales. Almost 90 projects have been supported in the first 2 years.


The Network is hosting its 2nd Annual Drug Discovery Congress on 2nd and 3rd December 2015 and the event will be attended by a number of leading international researchers as well representatives of the private sector such as multi-billion pound Bio-Technology entrepreneur and Chair of the Welsh Life Sciences Fund, Professor Sir Chris Evans.

Professor Mark Drakeford (Minister for Health and Social Services) will also attending and will be awarding prizes for best presentations and posters to PhD students and young researchers.


Next Generation of Researchers

The Network is committed to developing the next generation of scientists and has supported 43 PhD students across Wales. These students are working on developing the next generation of drugs to tackle major societal health issues such as:

  • Cancer
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Neurodegenerative diseases


Commercial Success

The Network has already had success in commercialising the outcomes of the academic research and is supporting a PhD student to work with a new biotechnology company to develop a technology originally patented by Cardiff University. The technology aims to inhibit the spread of breast cancer and is an early example of the World Class research developed within Wales potentially leading to new therapies. The company is already listed this year on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of around £100M and hopes to be ready to go into human clinical trials within 12-18 months.

Development of novel treatment for solid tumors

Scientists at Swansea University (Prof Paul Dyson and Dr Claire Morgan) were recently awarded a major award by Cancer Research UK to develop novel therapies for the treatment of prostrate cancer. This £180k award will support collaboration with Cardiff University (Prof Alan Clarke) in developing a new therapy to target any solid tumor, including late stage metastatic tumors. This patented technology delegate’s production and delivery of therapeutic molecules to tumour-targeting bacteria that are otherwise harmless to healthy tissue and has the potential to be developed into a new treatment for a wide range of cancers.


Potential Breast Cancer Treatment

Scientists at Cardiff University (Dr Jun Cai) are working on a novel strategy for treatment of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is one of the worst, forms of breast cancer for younger age patients (<40-year-old) and currently lack an effective therapy.  Following collaboration between Cardiff University’s Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, scientists have now identified two lead compounds, which have the potential to become new therapeutic drugs.  Further tests are ongoing but initial results look very promising.


Prof Chris McGuigan, Director of the Network said: “We are delighted to welcome the Health Minister to our 2nd Annual Congress where will celebrate the early success of the almost 90 drug discovery projects we have supported across Wales. The Network is a vital part of the flourishing life sciences ecosystem in Wales which has arisen from a unique partnership between Government, Academia, NHS and business”

Life Sciences Bridging Fund – Call for Pathfinder applications

The Welsh Government recently launched the Life Sciences Bridging Fund to provide proof-of-concept funding for Life Sciences projects arising from Welsh universities. The Fund aims to address the lack of translational funding required to develop the commercial potential of academic research and provides an important stepping-stone on the road to commercialisation.

The Bridging Fund Pathfinder scheme aims to support the initial stages of the commercialisation process and should be used to establish the technical and commercial potential of a discrete project.  Pathfinder is open to any academic working within a Welsh University. Applicants can apply for up to £75k with the majority of projects expected to be less than 12 months in duration. Calls for Pathfinder applications are running on a quarterly basis. The next deadline is 18 November 2015 (4pm).

Application forms and guidance notes will be available online shortly. In the meantime, they can be obtained through your Technology Transfer Office. For further information about the Life Sciences Bridging Fund, please contact the Project Manager, Dr Corinne Nguyen,

UK Extracellular Vesicles Forum – Call for Posters & Talks

Call for Posters and Short Talks

The call is now open to receive submissions for posters and short talks (~10min) on varied topics related to Extracellular Vesicles. Topics will include vesicles in cancer, the manufacture and trafficking of vesicles, methods for isolation and analysis, vesicles as therapeutic agents and several others.

Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so please register soon to ensure a place. Submission deadline is the 1st of November 2015.

Abstracts will be published in the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, and you can meet some of the JEV Editors at the conference.

We are delighted to announce international plenary speakers will present some of their latest vesicle-related research:-

HomeProf. Mattias Belting, Lund University.
Presenting: Vesicular communication in cancer

HomeDr Guillaume Van Neil, Institut Curie, Paris.
Presenting: How to handle amyloids in a safe manner:
Exosomes from pigment cells light the way.


To register only, please use this online form:

To submit an abstract & register, please use this online form:

Conference Registration Fees:
Staff £50, Students £25.

This meeting is part-sponsored by a Life Science Research Network Wales Endeavour Award.

BioWales 2016 – Registration now open!

Picture (Device Independent Bitmap) 1

Registration is now open for BioWales, the leading UK Life Sciences conference – with a discount of 40% available for early bird registration.

The theme for 2016 is Connect and Collaborate, with the event offering a unique platform in Wales to develop new international connections and partnering opportunities.

Lord Winston is the first of the big names to be announced in our inspirational, world class speaker programme. BioWales 2016 also showcases:

  • Expert-led collaborative workshops and round table sessions, focusing on funding, research, skills and technology.
  • The latest on how the Life Sciences Hub Wales is connecting, inspiring and accelerating growth.
  • Dragon’s Den, with financial rewards for the best entrepreneur pitch.
  • 1-to-1 partnering offering high-value connections and deal making prospects.

PLUS new to 2016 – a refreshed Website, VIP Breakfast Briefing, Micro SME Rate; and Innovation Zone allowing entrepreneurial SMEs to showcase their products and get ‘access-to-expert’ advice.

To register as a delegate please visit BioWales 2016

There are also great opportunities for Exhibitors and Sponsors.

Be part of it!

Follow us on @BioWales using #biowales2016

Cancer Free Future Event a Great Success

Tenovus Cancer Care joined forces with the Life Sciences Research Network Wales to showcase the very latest advances in the fight against cancer.

Experts from across the UK met at the Life Sciences Hub at Cardiff Bay to discuss the very latest advancements in cancer research to an audience which included PhD students funded by Tenovus Cancer Care, key supporters of the charity and Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM.

CPAlCnLWIAA99_aAmong the speakers were Hugh Griffiths, whose work with Professor Chris McGuigan has led to the development of Acelarin, which is helping to control the spread of solid tumours in cancer patients.

Professor McGuigan, Chair of Life Sciences Research Network Wales and the Life Sciences Hub Wales, and inventor of Acelarin, said: “At the National Research Network, we are proud to work with Tenovus in bringing better drugs forward to improve the treatment of cancer in patients across Wales, and beyond,”

Each year Tenovus Cancer Care invests nearly £0.5 million across 20 PhD projects making us one of the largest supporters of early career researchers and scientists in Wales. We are also pleased to announce that starting this October we will be investing a further £900,000 in 10 PhD studentships based at Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor Universities.

This year Tenovus Cancer Care has partnered with the Life Sciences Research Network (LSRN) to jointly support a PhD studentship in cancer drug development.

These studentships span a breadth of cancer research areas, including drug development, immunotherapy, cancer genetics and prostate cancer treatment choices.

Dr Ian Lewis, Director of Research at Tenovus Cancer Care, said: “Wales is at the forefront of some really exciting developments in cancer research. We are really proud to be working with the Life Sciences Research Network to support this PhD studentship, which will help us develop new drugs to combat cancer.”

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM added: “We have made real progress in improving cancer care in Wales – more people than ever now survive cancer, even though more people are being diagnosed.”

“The work of Tenovus is a fantastic example of how the third sector and NHS Wales work together to meet the needs of patients. My hope is such ongoing collaboration can continue to support society’s wider efforts to tackle the burden of cancer on individuals and the health service.”