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Funding boost for GSK’s Open Innovation Research

Published: Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 08, 2013
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GSK announced a funding injection of up to £5m from the Wellcome Trust to support its open approach to discovering and developing new treatments for diseases of the developing world.

The funding will move early-stage research to the next level, to find new medicines for diseases such as TB, malaria, Leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness. Scientists from around the world will work in collaboration with GSK drug discovery experts at its facility in Tres Cantos, Madrid – where GSK’s work researching diseases of the developing world is focused – with the overarching goal of developing two high-quality experimental drugs over the next five years.

GSK has been committed to an open approach to discovering new treatments for diseases of the developing world since 2010, when it created its Open Lab. Here, external researchers can work on their early stage research alongside GSK scientists at a dedicated facility at Tres Cantos, Madrid, benefiting from GSK facilities, resources and knowledge to help them advance their own research projects. Diseases of the developing world affect millions of people and yet R&D is struggling, due to the complexity of the science and low return on investment. To help address this, GSK’s Tres Cantos facility is intended to be an engine room of scientific innovation, stimulating more R&D into diseases that affect the world’s poorest people.   Based on the belief that transparency, openness and collaboration are key to igniting research in to these diseases, the Open Lab has, since its establishment, hosted 27 external researchers, who have worked alongside and been supported by GSK scientists on early-stage projects to identify compounds that are active against these diseases.

The £5m Wellcome Trust funding announced today will be used to take this open approach a significant step further, tackling the next phase of drug development with the aim of turning promising active compounds into high quality experimental drugs. The funding will provide the opportunity to progress the most promising projects underway by independent scientists at the Open Lab and from GSK’s own research portfolio. Innovative research that has come about using the GSK malaria and TB compound collections – which have been made freely available and publically accessible by GSK – also have the potential to benefit from the Wellcome Trust funding.

Dr Nick Cammack, Head of GSK’s Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus, which houses the Open Lab  said: “This support highlights a growing recognition that collaborative and open research is the key to tackling these devastating diseases. Since adopting an open approach to discovering new medicines for developing world diseases, we’ve hosted some of the world’s brightest academic scientists at Tres Cantos. The fusion of their academic excellence with GSK expertise has yielded some really exciting research projects. This tremendous show of support from the Wellcome Trust means we now have the potential to start driving these projects further towards finding new medicines.”

Dr Richard Seabrook, Head of Business Development at the Wellcome Trust, said: “Academic researchers are making incredible progress in our understanding of neglected diseases yet we’ve still got a bottle neck when it comes to the development of new drugs. Taking a more collaborative approach, as GSK have through their open lab, will see these advances reap the full benefit of the industry’s commercial expertise to give us the best chance of securing new treatments for these devastating diseases.”

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