C2D2 translational 1b & 2a - Building Infrastructure for Computational Approaches to Drug Development

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details

Layman's description

The research element of this project is to develop a computer-based tool set to enable data driven design approaches to computational simulations of human autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. At the same time, funding will be used to develop the technology and business infrastructure to establish a spin-out company, Immune Modelling Solutions, based in the Hub. This body will work with pharmaceutical companies in employing these computational simulations to assist in reducing the cost and attrition rate of therapeutics in phase II/III clinical trials. If successful this technology has the capacity to produce savings of up to 1 billion pounds per year to pharmaceutical industry.

Key findings

We have developed a software toolchain that permits the design, implementation and experimentation with, disease simulation software, with a focus on auto-immune diseases. We are able to demonstrate a relapsing-remiting disease (multiple-sclerosis) in simulation. This tool forms the basis of a potential spin out company that will use software for the support of phase II/III clinical trials. We have developed the technical infrastructure to support a range of experimentation protocols to allow a client to create bespoke simulations for their needs. We have also developed the process by which models and simulations will be developed with the client.

This has been mainly an internal project with York, limited interactions with Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies. We have discussed potential for the technology with various companies, and see set to act in a consultancy capacity for a large product manufacturer.

We have employed a single post-doc research assistant on both of these grants and also two other post-docs for smaller periods of time to help with certain aspects of software development. One post-doc went for a research fellow at Birmingham, then returned to York in the past few months, one other is employed as a post-doc in the Stepney group in Computer Science.

We have spent significant time engaging with potential partners and gauging the potential market for such a company and software. We have made extensive use of the research and innovation office at York. We have had meetings with investors, end users and this is informing our potential marketing strategy. We are now moving to the spinning out of a company to commercialise the work.


We submitted a grant to the Wellcome Trust in Sept. 2013, BBSRC Sept. 2013, both of which were rejected. Timmis submitted, and was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship to support the commercialisation work full-time from April 2014. In addition, Coles and Timmis were involved in a successful bid to NC3Rs to apply their tool to the development of a clinical trial support system for tropical diseases, led by Paul Kaye. This work began in Feb 2014 for 5 months. Coles and Timmis will be part of a follow on bid for around £1million to further develop the tools with a wider range of diseases.

Abstract for NC3R's conference submitted on our modelling approach.

Paper published in PLOS ONE (see below for details)
Effective start/end date1/07/1231/01/14