Professor Sir Mark Pepys received a knighthood for services to biomedicine in the 2012 New Year Honours list.
Creation of the UCL Wolfson Drug Discovery Unit. On 30 September 2011 Professor Pepys retired from his post of Head of the Division of Medicine at the Royal Free Campus of UCL and Director of the Centre. He then took up a new post as Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Professorial Clinical Research Associate at UCL. He also became the Director of the newly formed Wolfson Drug Discovery Unit within the Centre. The recent £6 million renovation of the Division of Medicine at the Royal Free Campus, initiated and led by Professor Pepys, included major expansion of the National Amyloidosis Centre accommodation. The development was generously supported by an award of £2 million from the Wolfson Foundation which enabled the reorganisation of the Centre’s drug development activities into the new Wolfson Unit.
Professor Philip Hawkins is the new Director of the Centre for Amyloidosis and Acute Phase Proteins and continues to lead the National Amyloidosis Centre.
Professor Vittorio Bellotti, Professor of Biochemistry at the Universita degli Studi di Pavia, Italy, a long time collaborator with the Centre, has been appointed from 31 October 2011, as Professorial Research Associate at UCL to establish his own group within the Centre. This important strategic appointment is supported by the last award made by the MRC under its now closed Strategic Appointments Scheme. Professor Bellotti will continue his world leading studies of fundamental mechanisms of amyloidosis and amyloid fibrillogenesis, combining the expertise of his existing Pavia group and his many external collaborations with the wide ranging scientific and clinical resources of the Centre and the broader facilities of UCL.
Our research into novel treatments for amyloidosis has been the subject of two recent publications in high impact journals.
A paper published in Nature on 4 November 2010 (click here for article on Nature's website) demonstrates efficacy, in an experimental model, of his first in class, dual small molecule-antibody therapy for systemic amyloidosis, while a paper in the PNAS, published 23 November 2010 (click here for free article at www.pnas.org), describes the design and properties of his new compounds for treatment of transthyretin amyloidosis.
The dual therapy was licensed to pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in February 2009 and is progressing towards clinical trials. The transthyretin-targeting compounds were also licensed to GSK in December 2010, bringing another of our novel treatments closer to patients.