Pre-announcement: addressing limitations in manufacturing nucleic acid therapeutics

Apply for funding to set up a research consortium addressing challenges in the manufacture of nucleic acid therapeutics.

Current manufacture challenges include but are not limited to:

  • scale of production
  • product purity, stereochemistry and reproducibility
  • sustainable production
  • novel chemistries
  • synthesis efficiency
  • analytical oligonucleotide characterisation.

The consortium can include academic and industrial organisations in the UK and abroad. The lead organisation must be UK-based.

Consortium proposals should demonstrate how the research outputs could benefit the wider UK research and manufacturing community.

You are encouraged to explore opportunities to collaborate with the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA) Hub, a new research centre in the UK.

Who can apply

The opportunity is open to academic and industrial organisations based in the UK or abroad. The lead organisation must be UK-based. UK Catapults are eligible to apply as investigators.

What we're looking for

Apply for funding for early stage research and innovation to address current limitations to the manufacture of nucleic acid therapeutics (NAT).

This funding opportunity is part of the wider £30 million NATA programme, funded by the Strategic Priorities Fund to support multidisciplinary approaches to the development of new genetic medicines.

Manufacture of NATs is currently complex, expensive and resource intensive, limiting large-scale production of these medicines. Despite improvements in product separation and reductions in stereoisomer by-products during chemical synthesis, purity remains a challenge.

New developments in solution-phase synthesis offer exciting opportunities to scale up, improve efficiency and reduce organic solvent use. Improved platforms for conjugation of targeting ligands hold promise for precision delivery and improvements in analytical characterisation remain crucial to regulatory confidence. This opportunity will provide funding for a consortium to tackle these limitations.

While the main focus of this opportunity will be to innovate NAT manufacture with regards to chemical synthesis and modification, enzymatic methodologies will also be considered. Solid-phase chemical synthesis of oligonucleotides is out of scope.

Proposals should demonstrate a step-change in approach, with consortium outputs having downstream translatability and industrial utility.

Applicants are encouraged to explore opportunities to collaborate with NATA Hub, a brand-new UK research centre offering end-to-end platform technology across the pre-clinical pathway, from oligo design, synthesis and characterisation, through to targeted delivery, in vitro screening and in vivo assessment.

Academic and industry investigators will have the opportunity to share their expertise, research interests and collaboration needs online, offering the opportunity to connect prospective applicants from across the community when forming a consortium. Further information may be found on the funding section of the NATA website.

Shortlisted applicants will be required to attend a workshop prior to the submission of their full application.

Up to £6 million of UKRI funding will be available over five years to eligible academic organisations and small and medium enterprises. Leveraged funding and expertise from industry partners is welcomed to increase impact and reach.

Contact details

Additional info

This opportunity is funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund.

The NATA’s second research challenge will support systemic targeting and intracellular delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics.

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