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We are delighted to share the news that Prof Anne Willis and Dr Ritwick Sawarkar are a part of a consortium that has been awarded £8 million by the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA) to enhance the UK's nucleic acid therapeutics delivery platforms.

The consortium, led by Professor Matthew Wood at the University of Oxford, brings together a mix of leading academic and industrial partners including the MRC Toxicology Unit, University College London, Mary Lyon Centre at MRC Harwell, the University of Massachusetts, King's College London, the Rosalind Franklin Institute, the Karolinska Institute, AstraZeneca, Ionis and Silence Therapeutics - all focused on overcoming the current constraints of delivering nucleic acid therapies.


Commenting on this announcement, Dr Ritwick Sawarkar said:

"It’s superb to work in the consortium with expert scientists, clinicians and industry colleagues in the emerging field of RNA Therapeutics to solve one of the biggest problems – to get the therapeutic in the right tissue in a safe and effective manner. Our experience at MRC Toxicology Unit on mechanistic toxicology and molecular cell biology will be nicely complementary to others’ expertise in the consortium."


Professor Nick Lench, NATA Executive Director said:

“We are thrilled to be working with the consortium led by the University of Oxford, that brings together world renowned experts in the field of nucleic acid therapy. We have now funded two consortia that, over the next 3-4 years, will significantly advance the field of oligonucleotide synthesis and delivery, this represents an important milestone for the UK scientific community and NATA”.


Funded through NATA’s Delivery Challenge, the consortium is part of an overall £14M investment that NATA is making, with contributions from LifeArc, to overcome scientific challenges faced by the nucleic acid therapies field.

The Delivery Challenge seeks to develop novel methods to provide more effective targeting and delivery of oligonucleotides to the CNS, heart and muscle cells. These therapies have the potential to tackle rare and common diseases, including cancer, that arise in patients by allowing researchers to modify the expression of faulty genes that cause disease.