Colorful rare disease awareness ribbon with a group of different colored sillouettes symbolizing people with rare diseases.
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An accelerator with funding and partners in the U.K. and U.S. has been launched by the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre to encourage innovation and the development of new therapeutics in the rare disease field.

The Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre is a joint organization, founded in 2019, that includes rare disease researchers at the University of Oxford in the U.K. and at the Harrington Discovery Institute in Ohio in the U.S.

“The Oxford-Harrington Centre was set up with a bold vision and ambitious goals to make an impact on the treatment of rare diseases. This new Accelerator initiative takes this a step further with its unique collaboration and for-profit and not-for-profit model,” said Matthew Wood, professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford and director of the center, in a press statement.

“It is only by combining resources and adopting innovative approaches that we can truly accelerate the development of new drugs for patients in need. Already we have seen many exciting opportunities and look forward to engaging with scientists at the forefront of rare disease research.”

The main purpose of the Therapeutics Accelerator will be to identify, fund and progress innovative research in the U.K. or U.S. that has the potential to be commercialized and brought to the clinic, with a view to developing 40 new therapies in 10 years. Investment will be shared between University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, the University of Oxford and its associated investment company Oxford Science Enterprises.

The Accelerator will operate with a non-profit/for-profit model and plans to fund new projects worth up to £200M. The focus will be on rare diseases with an urgent need for new treatments that fall into the category of rare neurological diseases, cancers and developmental diseases.

New companies or academic groups that receive funding, sourced from labs across the U.K. and U.S., will also receive help and advice with research, drug development, and commercial strategy and business development from experts in those areas.

The first Therapeutics Accelerator company, AlveoGene, was launched in the U.K. in September. It is developing inhaled gene therapies for patients with rare respiratory diseases.

In addition to setting up the Accelerator, the Oxford-Harrington Centre partners are working together to create a Rare Disease Impact Fund to help progress and accelerate other rare disease therapeutics projects.

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