The University of Dundee’s MEMO Research unit has been awarded £500,000 as part of an international effort to ensure protein drugs such as insulin and monoclonal antibodies work as effectively as possible.
RealHOPE (Real handling of protein drugs) is a four-year, €3.1 million project, led by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. From July 2021, research partners across Europe and the US will study how the handling of protein drugs in hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, logistics, and private homes affect their efficacy.
Protein drugs have been widely used in recent decades, resulting in significant improvements in the treatment of severe and life-threatening diseases but improper handling may result in degradation, with accompanying changes in how they work.
The research, funded by the Innovative Medicine Initiative, will see partners work with pharmacists, doctors, nurses, distributors, patients, and carers to compare what really happens with what should happen.
The project will then evaluate how sub-optimal storage/transport conditions affect the chemical/physical behavior of these medicines. It will also engage with the education of all the stakeholders involved around the distribution, preparation and use of these drugs to guarantee their stability and efficacy.
Dr Giorgia De Paoli, Professor Tom MacDonald and Professor Isla Mackenzie, from MEMO Research, will lead one of the five work packages of RealHOPE.
Dr De Paoli said, “I am extremely proud of leading this project and representing the University of Dundee in this international consortium, which will help to change the way we do research. This project will improve our knowledge on how to best handle these precious medicines.
“By including patients, carers, scientists, healthcare professionals and distributors, and by working all together in different parts of the world, we will empower groups, institutions, and companies to ensure better, safer, and more sustainable use of protein drugs.”
The RealHOPE consortium will bring together 24 international partners including academics, companies, research institutes, patient organisations, and pharmaceutical industry partners. Their experience and expertise will cover in-use aspects of protein pharmaceuticals and recognise the critical steps where stability is compromised.
As a result, improved and tailored training for patients, healthcare professionals, and distributors will be created considering the needs and preferences of all the stakeholders handling protein drugs.
New technologies will be developed and applied in environments such as hospitals, distribution channels and homes to guarantee consistency and stability in transportation, storage, preparation, and administration of the different protein drug products.
Revision of current guidelines and regulations or implementation of new ones will be established by collaborating closely with the major medicine agencies and regulatory bodies at national and international level to ensure less waste and better use of these pharmaceutical products.
Professor MacDonald added, “This is a prestigious and highly competitive award of grant funding to study an extremely important aspect of modern therapeutics. The MEMO Research team has achieved this in the face of intense competition and we are very proud to be part of this research programme.”