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Our panel discussion 'The Cambridge cluster: now and the future' was live-streamed to the symposium platform this year. Above left to right: Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations, University of Cambridge; Harriet Fear, Director, Cambridge&; Kathryn Chapman, Deputy Director, Milner Therapeutics Institute, University of Cambridge; Aga Iwasiewicz-Wabnig, Director of Partnership Development, Maxwell Centre, University of Cambridge.


Milner Update: July 2021


A highlight in the past month was the Milner annual symposium — held online through a bespoke conference platform to maximise audience interaction. Although we very much hope to bring more partners together in person next year, the online format attracted over 650 registrants and made it possible to include more fantastic international speakers including Nevan Krogan (UCSF), David Liu (Harvard) and Jeff Settleman (Pfizer). To help us plan future events, please take a few moments to fill in our anonymous feedback form.

The symposium also provided an exciting opportunity to bring a small group of speakers together in the city for a live panel session on Cambridge and Business. Here, a key focus of the discussion was around the future of the Cambridge cluster and the central role that the new Cambridge University Enterprise Zone Connect: Health Tech will have in this. We are delighted that Connect: Health Tech officially launched last month, and this week saw the publication of its new roadmap for examining the challenges faced in futureproofing and sustaining the growth of the life sciences cluster — to maintain Cambridge as a global centre of excellence for health tech. Read more about the roadmap, and how to join our new online community (complete with mobile app!) in the Connect: Health Tech section below.

In this issue:

  • Centre for Pathway Analysis Update
  • Connect: Health Tech Update
  • Consortium News
  • Affiliated Company Spotlight: Immundnz & Testa Center
  • New Affiliated Companies: Cyclica
  • Affiliated Company News
  • Events

Centre for Pathway Analysis Update


Namshik Han’s group, within the Centre for Pathway Analysis here at the Milner Institute, have identified 200 approved drugs predicted to work against COVID-19 – of which only 40 are currently being tested in COVID-19 clinical trials.

In a study published last month in Science Advances, Namshik's group show how they used a combination of computational biology and machine learning to create a comprehensive map of proteins that are involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection – from proteins that help the virus break into the host cell to those generated as a consequence of infection. By examining this network using AI approaches, they were able to identify key proteins involved in infection as well as biological pathways that might be targeted by drugs.

“Our study has provided us with unexpected information about the mechanisms underlying COVID-19 and has provided us with some promising drugs that might be repurposed for either treating or preventing infection. While we took a data-driven approach – essentially allowing artificially intelligent algorithms to interrogate datasets – we then validated our findings in the laboratory, confirming the power of our approach.” said Dr Namshik Han.

Read the press release from the University of Cambridge, and check out the visual abstract below.


Connect: Health Tech Update


Connect: Health Tech has launched!

We are excited to announce that the University of Cambridge has launched the Connect: Health Tech website and online community platform, as part of the new University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) initiative.

What is Connect: Health Tech?
Connect: Health Tech has been created to build a highly effective interdisciplinary bridge between two Cambridge research hubs and beyond: the West science and technology hub anchored at the Maxwell Centre and the South biomedical hub anchored at the Milner Therapeutics Institute. The bridge will bring together and integrate a community from across the University, research institutes, NHS, industry, investors, local and national Government, with a focus on med tech, digital health and therapeutics, to create opportunities that will transform ideas at the interface between medicine and technology into reality.

Tell me more about the online community...
To create a thriving business and enterprise community that connects key stakeholders, Connect: Health Tech has developed an online community where users will be able to find new contacts and networks to discuss areas of common interest and catalyse interdisciplinary interactions across the physical and life sciences. Engaging with this online community will enable businesses to share the challenges they face and harness the power of the community to help solve real world problems. The online community comes with a mobile app (available in both Google Play and Apple Stores), meaning it has never been easier to stay connected to the Cambridge Community. You can pop the App next to your other social media icons and make Connect: Health Tech part of your daily routine without it taking up too much of your time. Check out the short video below for more!

What is the new roadmap/report designed to achieve?
Connect: Health Tech has published an ambitious but realistic roadmap for the University and its partners in the Cambridge cluster, to deliver transformative therapies at the interface between medicine and technology.

The report, Creating a University Enterprise Zone for Cambridge across the life and physical sciences, identifies and outlines the challenges, opportunities and potential solutions to support the future growth of Health Tech in the cluster and wider region. Many of the solutions identified are transferable to other hubs and demonstrate the importance of creating the right environment for ideas, innovation and co-creation to thrive. The roadmap sets out a clear plan to deliver Connect: Health Tech.

Read the new University roadmap by clicking here »


Consortium News


Eisai Co. and Bristol Myers Squibb announced an exclusive global strategic collaboration agreement for the co-development and co-commercialization of MORAb-202, an antibody drug conjugate (ADC). Read more »

Eli Lilly & Company and MiNA Therapeutics Limited, announced a global research collaboration to develop novel drug candidates using MiNA's proprietary small activating RNA technology platform. Read more »

GlaxoSmithKline and Alector announced a strategic global collaboration for the development and commercialisation of two clinical-stage monoclonal antibodies designed to elevate progranulin (PGRN) levels. Read more »

Johnson & Johnson announced the launch of the J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery, a new, global network of research partnerships that will leverage the institutional strengths of Johnson & Johnson and leading academic institutions to accelerate discovery research to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges. Read more »

Milner Innovation Board member Dr Susan Galbraith was appointed Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca Read more »

Pfizer have collaborated with Abbvie and Biogen to launch a browsable resource linking rare protein-coding genetic variants. Managed by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the browser gives access to results from analyses of whole exome sequencing data from 300,000 UK Biobank research participants. Read more »

Ferring and Rebiotix presented positive interim Phase 3 results from an open-label study of investigational microbiota-based live biotherapeutic RBX2660 at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW). Read more »


Affiliated Company Spotlight


Dr Robert-Jan Lamers
Co-Founder & Director

Company formed in: 2016

Type: CRO

Location: Immundnz is headquartered at Alderley Park, Cheshire, UK, with a second research site in the Netherlands.

Key research or technology focus: Immundnz is a specialist immunology company providing customised and experimental immunology services using in vitro and ex vivo human cell models for preclinical drug research and development. We offer these on primary and established PBMCs. In addition, we have developed innovative predictive translational human cell line-based in vitro immunology assays with the advantage of being adaptive, consistent, reproducible and more cost-effective than conventional PBMC-based and in vivo assays.

Can provide expertise in: Immunology, immuno-oncology, inflammation, auto-immune and infectious disease drug discovery projects. Find out more about Immundnz by clicking the logo below


Dr Jesper Hedberg
Director, Testa Center for Cytiva

Testa Center: The Center was created in 2016 as a non-profit company based in Uppsala, Sweden, serving as a hub for innovation in biological manufacturing. The Center was co-created by the Swedish Government and Cytiva (formerly GE Life Sciences) to grow, develop and evolve the local biopharma landscape with a vision to adapt the concept globally. The facility includes 4 start-to-finish bioprocessing laboratories where researchers can test and evaluate their technical and biological discoveries while keeping the full ownership of their results and intellectual property.

Key Areas of Focus: Testa Center acts as a test-bed for academics, start-ups as well as large global organizations to validate and develop their methodologies and expertise. Incorporating state-of-the-art, wing-to-wing equipment for biological production with expert senior scientists, the Testa Center primarily focuses on biopharmaceutical development and production. This offering is growing to support vaccine development, as well as cell and gene therapy manufacturing and innovation.

Current Challenges: The demand for Testa Center’s services is growing in the EU and UK, and the team are working with our partners internationally on solutions to overcome restrictions (including COVID and Brexit) that have made it harder for researchers to travel and for resources to be shipped.

Find out more about how academic groups and businesses have been working together in the Testa Center labs:

  • Sara Mangsbo (Uppsala University):
    Verifying technology before commercializing. Read more »
  • Uppsala University:
    Masters and Ph.D student courses and projects. Read more »
  • Jenny Rönnmark (Spider Technologies):
    Accelerating industrialization of a spider silk product. Read more »

    Save the date: Tuesday 5th October
    The Milner Institute will be co-hosting a Testa Center webinar in October. Register your interest now to view the meet Jesper and the team, and learn more about the Center! Register interest »

    Find out more about Testa Center by clicking the logo below.


New Affiliated Companies


Cyclica uses a first-in-class AI platform, and an innovative decentralized partnership model to create medicines with precision for unmet patient needs.

If you would like to find out more about becoming affiliated, email our Head of Partnerships and Alliance, Alison Schuldt:


Affiliated Company News


Abcam and Pionyr Immunotherapeutics announced the extension of their collaboration to support the progression of a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of advanced solid tumours. Read more »

Alloy Therapeutics and Pyxis Oncology announced the formation of a joint venture named Kyma Therapeutics to develop immune-modulating antibodies for novel targets in cancer and autoimmune diseases. Read more »

Cyclica and PrecisionLife Ltd. have signed a strategic partnership to create a rapid innovation engine for drug discovery. Read more »

Cytiva has acquired Intermountain Life Sciences, which will make it possible to rapidly boost its liquid cell culture production. Read more »

Domainex was awarded ‘Best CRO’ at the postponed OBN Awards 2020. Read more »

Eurofins Discovery and ImmunoPrecise Antibodies have announced a collaboration to expand their antibody discovery platform. Read more »

Genedata announced a partnership with Encoded Therapeutics to digitalize their proprietary gene therapy R&D technology. Read more »

Intellegens won two awards at the AM Tech Forum Awards: Best in Class Software, and the Startup Award. Read more »

Lifebit has been awarded a four-year contract by Hong Kong’s Genome Institute (HKGI) to support implementation of the first large-scale genome sequencing initiative in Hong Kong. Read more »

Lifebit also announced a long-term partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim to utilise Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence for the detection and early reporting of global disease outbreaks. Read more »

o2h discovery announced that one of its collaborators, NeoPhore Limited, a small molecule neoantigen immuno-oncology company has closed a successful Series B round and has also expanded its drug discovery collaboration with o2h discovery. Read more »

Standigm announced that they have secured a $10 million investment from Pavilion Capital, a Singapore-based investment institution. Read more »

Totient have been acquired by the synthetic biology company AbSci. Read more »

Vivan Therapeutics are partnering with Perlara to identify new medicines for rare genetic diseases. Read more »




British Association for Cancer Research: Response and Resistance in Cancer Therapy
6th-8th September, Online

This meeting has a line-up of internationally-renowned invited speakers, covering the discovery of novel targets and resistance mechanisms in cancer cells, to analysis of the tumour microenvironment, the clinical development of immunotherapies and the use of liquid biopsies for disease monitoring. Read more »

Practical Application of Toxicology in Drug Development Course
13th–17th September, Online

This course will provide training in toxicology as applied in drug development to scientists from all parts of the world. This course is intended to benefit those from both biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies as well as CROs working with either small or large molecules, along with those from regulatory agencies and academia who are interested in toxicology and its application in the safety assessment of drugs and medical products. Read more »

Milner Seminar Series
23rd September, Online

Our monthly Seminar Series will return in September, kicking off with a talk from Adrian Liston of The Babraham Institute. "Design new therapeutics for treating neuroinflammatory disorders". Read more »

ELRIG: Drug Discovery 2021
19th & 20th October, The Exhibition Centre, ACC Liverpool

ELRIG’s annual Drug Discovery meeting is Europe’s largest meeting for life sciences industry professionals and will return in the autumn of 2021, to celebrate the innovation and efforts of industry and scientific successes throughout the period of the pandemic. Read more »

CATS-Milner Therapeutic Perspectives Series
October, Online... Watch this space!

This panel webinar provides expert opinion and thought-provoking discussion around key challenges and opportunities in translational research. The series is aimed at a mixed academic-industry audience and draws on expert speakers from across academia, industry, medicine, investors, policy and funding. The series is currently paused and will resume in October 2021. If you have questions about this series or would like to join our email list for event updates, please email:, and for details of past events, visit the webpage »

ELRIG: Discovery Technologies 2021: Early Drug Discovery Strategies
9th & 10th November, Circle Square, Manchester

With the rapid advancement of new technologies the potential for developing life changing therapeutic interventions has never been so promising. With these possibilities new challenges arise, not least how to prosecute drug discovery campaigns against new and novel targets and those previously deemed intractable. In addition to learning about the latest and most cutting-edge science on early drug discovery strategies, there will be ample networking opportunities as well as an exhibition show-casing the technologies and their applications. Read more »

Contact us

The Milner Institute
Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre
University of Cambridge
Puddicombe Way
Cambridge CB2 0AW, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1223 767111 |

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