MRC, GSK and universities team up on inflammatory diseases

UK pharma giant GSK is partnering with the Medical Research Council, to study the biological mechanisms behind common inflammatory diseases.

The partnership will also involve researchers from University College London, and the university of Cambridge, Glasgow and Newcastle, as well as Imperial College London.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is providing funding of up to £8million pounds over five years to support academic costs, which will be matched with contributions from GSK. The pharma firm will also provide access to a portfolio of its currently available medicines, experimental compounds, screening facilities and the company’s drug discovery and development in-house expertise.

The collaboration aims to improve the success rate for the discovery of new potential treatments for diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and fibrosis. It comes as GSK announced another R&D partnership with the Francis Crick Institute.

GSK’s president of pharmaceuticals R&D, Patrick Vallance, says: “We believe that by sharing our resources and research during the early stages of research we can stimulate innovation within the scientific community, strengthen our understanding of human disease and accelerate the development of new treatments for patients. We need to embrace opportunities to work together and share information about our successes and failures.

“The MRC’s initiative is a great way for us to do precisely this, allowing us to work alongside scientists from five top UK universities to drive forward our collective understanding of inflammatory disease, and we’re confident this unique approach will make us better able to develop innovative new treatments in the future.”

Minister for life sciences George Freeman says: “Networks of biomedical researchers from hospitals, industry and universities are key to unlocking the biomedical breakthroughs that are transforming our understanding of the mechanisms of disease and developing new diagnostics and treatments for patients.”

Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, says: “Despite major progress made over the last 20 years in many disease areas, some hard-to-treat conditions still carry high morbidity and mortality. Addressing these challenges successfully requires close, flexible, collaboration across a range of disciplines with complementary methodological expertise and disease understanding which is why initiatives such as this are so important to the MRC. We believe this innovative approach could be applied in other areas to combine the work of academia and industry.”

by Yasmita Kumar

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