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GlaxoSmithKline teams up with academia to develop new medicines of value


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University of Cambridge to pioneer drug development by “academic incubators”

London, UK

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is launching a ground-breaking new concept which will tap into the highest quality thinking in academia to optimise the early clinical development of new GSK medicines in a model of shared risk and reward.

GSK has signed its first agreement with the University of Cambridge, which will dedicate a team of academic experts in both neuroscience and metabolic disorders, to develop a novel centrally-acting agent with therapeutic potential for obesity and addictive disorders.

In a pioneering approach to collaboration, Cambridge will contribute know-how and expertise, as well as bearing some financial risk for which they’d be compensated if the programme is a success. GSK will provide operational support, access to its in-house clinical research and imaging facilities, and background preclinical data on the drug. Importantly, the agreement also allows the academic scientists freedom to publish results arising from their work on incubator projects.

Said Patrick Sissons, Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine in Cambridge: “We place great value on our relationship with GSK and are delighted to be working with them in this innovative new partnership between leading clinical scientists in the University and Industry”.

This agreement is fully aligned with one of the key recommendations of the Cooksey Review of UK Health Research Funding (2006) that consideration should be given to alternative drug development models, such as Public Private Partnerships, to optimise effective collaboration between industry and academic sectors in the development of effective new medicines.

Said Patrick Vallance, Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery at GlaxoSmithKline. “This puts academia/industry relationships on a new footing and allows academics, who are leaders in their fields, the opportunity to become directly involved in developing medicines for patients and to have the freedom to take the programme in exciting new directions.”

Under the terms of this innovative “Academic Incubator” concept, leading clinicians and scientists at carefully selected academic institutions worldwide will take direct responsibility for the design of experimental studies to investigate the efficacy and safety of novel drugs originating from GSK or from academia. They will be charged with tackling the complex challenges that lie between recognising the therapeutic potential of a new compound and delivering a medicine of value to patients and payers. How they do this will be up to the academic scientists to decide but will likely include new approaches to patient selection, study design and commercial strategy. These teams of academic scientists and clinicians will be expected to challenge industry norms and set a unique path for preclinical and early clinical development activities which will deliver on the promise of an asset at the earliest stage.


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