UK Centre for Lead Discovery: Sharing access to our advanced drug discovery robot

Our Open Innovation programme is providing scientists from Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) with the opportunity to work with the world’s most advanced drug discovery robot.

NiCoLA-B works three times more quickly than previous drug discovery robots, using innovative acoustic delivery technology to screen up to 300,000 compounds a day in the search for new treatments for cancer and other serious diseases. Unlike older robots, NiCoLA-B senses and responds to the scientists that work alongside it in the laboratory.



Paul Harper, Associate Principal Scientist, IMED Biotech Unit said, “We used to have to adjust our experiments to the way the robots worked, but NiCoLA-B has been designed to adapt to our way of working and collaborate with us. At any time, we can quickly inspect, interact and easily reconfigure it to our changing needs, so we’re in charge now!”

NiCoLA-B will be placed within the UK Centre for Lead Discovery, our new screening research facility.  There, Open Innovation partners such as CRUK and MRC have access to the laboratory, screening robots, compound libraries and our scientific expertise, and will work collaboratively with our own scientists to research treatments in a range of diseases where there is a substantial unmet need.

“It's really exciting that AstraZeneca are opening their doors and allowing academic scientists into their labs,” said Georgia Cerillo, Medical Research Council Supported Scientist.

Fabrice Turlais, Discovery Scientist at Cancer Research UK said, “NiCoLA-B will have a really positive impact on our work. Something which would previously have taken a year to do will take a few months.”