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GSK to research traditional Chinese medicines

Will investigate how to apply their principles in the quest for new drugs 

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to investigate how to apply the principles of traditional Chinese medicines to its quest to discover new drugs.

To do this the pharma company will create a new Discovery Performance Unit (DPU), to be based in China.

“Within our discovery organisation in China we have created a DPU that will marry traditional Chinese medicine with modern drug discovery and clinical efficacy,” Moncef Slaoui, GSK's chairman of research and development told the Sunday Telegraph.

“With modern technology we have the potential to yield new molecular entities with significant efficacy.”

The announcement follows the completion of a review of the company's DPUs that will see the creation of a total of four new units, with three to close.

The review, which was carried out by a board of senior GSK R&D leaders and people from the venture capital and biotech/pharma investment sectors, was “driven by assessments of potential returns on investment, scientific quality and opportunity”, GSK said.

Its recommendations also include putting more money into six existing DPUs and cutting back on the investment for five units.

The DPU model was established in 2008 to increase the efficiency of GSK's research and development spending and, as of last year, there were 38 units.

These are made up of 5-70 scientists and each DPU focuses on one particular disease or pathway.

Commenting on their progress in his review 2011, CEO Andrew Wittty said: “Over the last three years, I have visited many of the DPUs and am very pleased with the energy, approach and productivity we are seeing from our scientists in these units.”

As a results of the change GSK expects to move up to 30 new drugs into late-stage development in the next three years.

13th February 2012

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