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GSK to collaborate with Yale to target disease-causing proteins

Follows deal with University of Nottingham in UK to create centre for sustainable chemistry

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has teamed up with Yale University in the US to research what could be a new class of medicines that target disease-causing proteins.

The partnership will see GSK develop Yale's current efforts into proteolysis targeting chimeric molecules (PROTACs), which aim to destroy disease-causing proteins. Having too many of these in the body can lead to conditions like cancer and infections.

Under the terms of their deal GSK will hold the rights to use any developed technologies across all therapy area, with Yale eligible for milestone and royalty payments for each drug discovered and developed.

The UK-based pharma company said the this was a unique partnership compared to other academic collaborations it was currently involved in as its aim is to develop a potential whole new class of medicines.

Kris Famm, who will head GSK's efforts, said: “This partnership is exploring a new way for promising, but unproven therapeutic approaches to jump from the academic lab more quickly into the early stage pharmaceutical pipeline.”

The partnership was also praised by Craig Crews, the Lewis B. Cullman professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, and professor of chemistry and pharmacology at Yale, who will be leading the university's involvement in the project.

He said: “The relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and academia is changing and this collaboration offers a new paradigm for how pharma companies and academic researchers can benefit from working more closely together.”

The partners have already begun research as part of their collaboration and GSK said proof of principle data is expected to be available by the end of 2012.

The US partnership follows GSK's deal last week with the University of Nottingham in the UK to establish a new laboratory to accommodate the company's Centre of Excellence for sustainable chemistry.

Based at the University's Jubilee Campus, construction is being supported by a £12m grant from GSK and will incorporate technology that will allow it to be carbon-neutral over its lifetime. 

This includes its construction from natural materials, as well as the use of renewable sources such as solar power and sustainable biofuel to provide energy.

Research will complement established efforts at Nottingham that is also of relevance to the pharma industry, said GSK.

“This is an opportunity to invest further in science in the UK, re-think how we approach the drug discovery process and play a role in contributing to environmental stewardship,” said GSK's CEO Sir Andrew Witty.

2nd May 2012

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