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MRC Technology. (9/1/16). "Press Release: New Collaboration to Explore Novel Treatments for Respiratory Diseases". London.

Region Region United Kingdom (GB)
Organisations Organisation MRC Technology (MRCT)
  Today LifeArc (GB)
  Group LifeArc (GB)
  Organisation 2 AstraZeneca plc (LSE: AZN)
  Group AstraZeneca (Group)
Products Product asthma drugs
  Product 2 epigenetics / epigenomics
Person Person Kraan, Maarten (AstraZeneca 201502 Head Respiratory, Inflammation + Autoimmune Diseases)

A charity-industry collaboration has launched an initiative to find new epigenetic drug treatments to improve the lives of millions of people affected by respiratory diseases every year.

The respiratory collaboration brings Asthma UK, AstraZeneca, the British Lung Foundation and MRC Technology together to investigate the link between epigenetics and respiratory disease. Epigenetics are changes in the expression of genes, which could be attributed to lifestyle and other external factors affecting the body. Epigenetics do not change the DNA sequence. Until now epigenetics research has mostly focused on cancer, but it presents a promising avenue for respiratory research which, it is hoped, will help speed up the delivery of new treatments.

The collaboration is combining resources and expertise in drug discovery and clinical development, funding, and access to research networks and patient groups to enable early stage scientific research to be translated into potential new therapies for respiratory diseases. The collaboration is calling on researchers to join them to accelerate epigenetic respiratory research, particularly into asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive at Asthma UK said: “Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially fatal asthma attack, and frighteningly, for those with severe asthma, treatments often don’t work, so the need for new and effective treatments is urgent. We are therefore delighted to be providing funding for this collaboration which will help us better understand the relationship between epigenetics and respiratory diseases, including asthma, and ultimately develop new, effective treatments.”

Maarten Kraan, Head of the Respiratory and Inflammation Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca said: “With novel therapeutic strategies directed against epigenetic changes, this collaboration represents an important step forward in AstraZeneca’s commitment to the fundamental research needed to find transformative medicines for the hundreds of millions of patients afflicted by these conditions.”

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to be sharing our expertise, promoting this opportunity to our research networks, and looking to contribute funding to the initiative. We must ensure that the best scientific ideas are identified and developed into real-world improvements to treat the millions of people who have lung disease.”

Dr Justin Bryans, Director, Drug Discovery, at MRC Technology said: “Our collaboration improves the likelihood that promising research will be translated into potential new patient treatments. The funding and support from Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation will enable us to identify innovative science to progress in our own laboratories, while AstraZeneca’s expertise is invaluable to get therapies into the clinic.”

Researchers interested in working with the collaboration will find further information at

Notes to Editors

Media enquiries:

Liezel Tipper, PR & Communications Manager, MRC Technology. Tel: 020 7391 2772, Email:

About the collaborators:

Asthma UK

Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life threatening asthma attack. Asthma UK is solely funded by public donations. The Asthma UK Helpline is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm on 0300 222 5800. For more information about asthma please visit


AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas – Respiratory and Autoimmunity, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, and Oncology. The company is also active in inflammation, infection and neuroscience through numerous collaborations. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:

British Lung Foundation

The British Lung Foundation is the only UK charity fighting to help the 1 in 5 people in the UK affected by lung disease, by researching new treatments, campaigning for better awareness and services, and providing support and advice for patients, carers and family members. For further information, please visit For help and support, call the BLF Helpline on 03000 030 555. To donate £5 to help the BLF fight lung disease, please text LUNGS to 70500.

MRC Technology

MRC Technology is an independent life science medical research charity committed to improving positive patient outcomes everywhere.As a champion for human health, MRC Technology partners with academic, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and charity organisations to move promising medical research forward into viable and accessible patient treatments. As a self-funded charity, income is reinvested to support translating research from the bench to patient. MRC Technology offers commercialisation and IP management skills and diagnostic and drug discovery expertise, specialising in small molecules and therapeutic antibodies.

Record changed: 2016-09-05


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