Skip to main content

Accelerating Impact: Dr Chris Pudney on driving next generation drug discovery

Dr Chris Pudney has developed a new software solution to make it cheaper, safer and faster for pharmaceutical companies to predict protein stability.

A series of colourful overlapping squares
Transforming the prevention and treatment of disease

Transforming the prevention and treatment of disease

Protein Biochemist, Dr Chris Pudney utilised an award from the University’s EPSRC IAA Open Call to further the development of a revolutionary digital tool that will make it cheaper, safer and faster for pharmaceutical companies to predict protein stability.

The challenge

Biopharmaceuticals are some of the most lucrative new drugs in the world, worth hundreds of billions of pounds a year. The highest grossing of these highly sensitive drugs are proteins called therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, which account for the largest proportion of the market.

The major challenge in developing and producing biopharmaceuticals is not in finding high-activity drugs, but in identifying stable drugs. The problem of poor stability leads to annual wastage of hundreds of millions of pounds in products that fail quality control. Whilst a range of experimental (biophysical) approaches exist to track changes in the stability of proteins, routine prediction of stability remains challenging and hugely expensive for pharmaceutical companies.

Developed at Bath, a software tool called Quantitative Understanding of Bio-molecular Edge-Shift (QUBES) solves this problem by finding the best molecule possible with exceptional speed and accuracy - reducing the time and costs associated with new drug development.

Advancing science to safeguard health

The QUBES technology has the potential to play a vital role in the creation of monoclonal antibodies, a type of protein derived from natural antibodies which is then refined, and mass produced in the lab. These proteins are steadily transforming the way science treats and prevents diseases, from cancer to viral infections.

The IAA project enabled the team to validate the software solution in trials with companies and investigate the market for the new technology.

"The project was exciting because it allowed us to establish the use of our technology in a real industry setting – enabling us to assess the offering and the niche that our technology could usefully occupy. It was incredible to see the technology being used in 'the real world' and we learnt a lot through the process, both in terms of market interest but also product design and development." Dr Chris Pudney.

How IAA funding made a difference

Working with companies helped the research team commercialise the software by deepening their understanding of both the value of the technology and where it could be used most effectively.

Using the evidence gained from the IAA funded project, the team spun-out a company from the University of Bath - BLOC Laboratories - to commercialise the technology.

The IAA has spurred new interactions, particularly with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), who performed a validation of our technology. Funding has enabled us to sell licenses of our technology, and we are seeking to further expand our revenue through new products and services. – Dr Chris Pudney

Next steps

In the short term, Dr Pudney and his team continue to commercialise the QUBES technology and grow revenue by looking at novel application areas. A new product launch is planned for 2024.

Our vision is a portfolio of products that can allow the business to grow and draw in new users from different niches, Chris Pudney.

Dr Pudney is Associate Professor of Biochemistry in the Department of Life Sciences.

Our IAA funding can accelerate your research impact

More on our Impact Acceleration Accounts

Contact us

Contact us for more on our Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs).