RARE Daily

The Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre Therapeutics Accelerator Launches

October 3, 2023

Rare Daily Staff

The University of Oxford and Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio launched the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre Therapeutics Accelerator with an official signing event at the University of Oxford.

The accelerator is a first-in-kind, transatlantic initiative to identify, fund, and advance breakthrough academic discoveries to deliver new treatments for the 400 million people worldwide who suffer from rare diseases. Its goal is to deliver 40 new potentially life-changing therapies for rare diseases into clinical trials over the next ten years and target multiple approvals from regulators in key markets including the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.

The Oxford-Harrington Center unites world-leading research across the United Kingdom and United States with expertise in therapeutics development by combining University of Oxford’s more than 250 principal investigator scientists studying more than 350 rare diseases with Harrington Discovery Institute’s track record of advancing breakthrough medicines into clinical development. Harrington Discovery has funded 177 medicines, launched 36 companies, advanced 19 medicines into the clinic, and licensed 13 therapies to pharma companies since its founding in 2012.

The accelerator will receive support from a new co-funding and co-investment agreement between University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, University of Oxford, and investment company Oxford Science Enterprises, and aims to ensure that capital is deployed efficiently to advance a sustainable pipeline of new therapies either through academia or via the creation of venture-backed spinout companies.

The first investment by the accelerator was made in September 2023 in conjunction with the creation of AlveoGene, a United Kingdom-based company launched to develop innovative inhaled gene therapies and transform outcomes in patients with rare respiratory diseases.

The partners are also collaborating to create a dedicated Rare Disease Impact Fund to enable investments in mission-aligned projects and accelerate the development of rare disease therapeutics.

David Cameron, the former U.K. Prime Minister, will lead the international efforts of the accelerator under his role as chair of the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre Advisory Board.

“I know from my own experience of having a son born with an incredibly rare and incurable disease, how little we really know about rare diseases. Although individually they may only affect small numbers of patients like my son, Ivan, collectively they represent a major global health crisis that affects millions of patients and their families in life-changing ways,” said Cameron. “As Prime Minister and since, I have been fortunate to follow the enormous scientific breakthroughs that have taken place over the last decade, such as the use of genomics, which opened my eyes to how much we could know about rare diseases.”

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