SAANICH – Chemistry students at the University of Victoria are now part of an international program that will provide them with hands-on learning during their academic course work.

As part of LEO Pharma’s Open Innovation program, students are designing and synthesizing molecules and sending them to Denmark for biological testing. Researchers now have access to unique tests to screen small-molecule compounds in the battle to find better treatment for skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis.

"Students get a hands on chance to create and test molecules to find next-generation treatments," said UVic chemistry professor and project lead Jeremy Wulff. "They also get to learn how a global, pharmaceutical company operates, which gives them an integrated, dynamic learning opportunity while studying at UVic."

The partnership between UVic and LEO Pharma has the potential to identify new chemicals that may then be used in various levels of drug discovery. It includes the sharing of traditionally confidential and proprietary research data and capabilities to involve UVic students directly with innovative and clinically relevant research.

"We are enabling students to go in the lab, learn about real pharmaceutical science, and how we conduct drug trials to treat eczema," said LEO Pharma's Niclas Nilsson. "LEO Pharma’s hope is that someone will have a novel resource, piece of information or an idea toward a potential solution for dermatology patients."

Chemistry students at UVic will participate as part of their academic coursework.

"Anytime you are targeting a disease, you think about the people who suffer from that disease and you think this would be wonderful if you could make an impact on society by actually coming up with a cure or a treatment to help those people," said Wulff.

"That's true in eczema or psoriasis as it is true for cancer or anti-viral drugs."

Wulff said he thinks this a great opportunity for UVic, the students and LEO Pharma alike. In addition to providing students with valuable training, the project serves to focus on global partnerships as a way to enhance innovation and create new research opportunities.